Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

Jane Applegate, Ph.D.


Education, Language arts, English teachers, Reading teachers, Highly qualified teachers, Secondary schools


This study was designed to collect data to determine the specific characteristics (gender, level and area of degree status, certification status, pedagogical training, gender, number of years of teaching experience, number of years teaching at the current school, and courses currently taught) of language arts teachers at Florida's low-performing pubic high schools and compare these characteristics to teachers' sense of efficacy (the extent to which teachers' believe they have the ability to bring about changes in student achievement independent of the student's background, behaviors, or motivation level). A total of 615 teachers representing 84 schools in 36 districts participated in the study. Teachers completed a researcher-created survey questionnaire and the Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale Long (Tschannen-Moran and Hoy, 2001). The data were collected and analyzed using descriptive and multiple regression statistics.The majority of the respondents meet the minimum re

quirements of highly qualified teachers as defined by NCLB. However, only 37% of responding language arts teachers at Florida's low-performing public high schools have degrees in English education, and only 15% of responding reading teachers have degrees in reading or reading education. Additionally, the majority of the responding teachers have been only been teaching at the school site for five or fewer years.Although the majority of responding teachers reported moderate to high sense of classroom management and instructional practice efficacy, over 43% reported low sense of student engagement efficacy, suggesting the teachers do not believe they possess the skills or knowledge necessary to engage students in learning. The study suggests that improving student achievement for our lowest-performing students may require more than providing students with highly qualified teachers defined by NCLB. Districts and schools must examine more closely the characteristics of highly effective teac

hers in order to recruit and retain teachers who can truly impact student achievement for students who have previously demonstrated a lack of success. Additionally, schools would benefit from professional development designed to provide teachers with classroom strategies that engage students in learning and which helps develop a school-wide literacy culture reflecting high expectations for student achievement.