Criteria for judging exemplary teachers: A Rhode Island experience

Monica L Nagy, Johnson & Wales University


Teacher quality is a current topic of much debate. The terms "quality teacher" and "highly qualified" are seen in legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) and are used frequently when describing excellent teachers. Many studies point to the fact that teacher quality is the most important predictor of student academic success (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002; W. Sanders, 1999). Building upon this previous research and its definitions, the term exemplary teacher is used in this study.^ This study measures the characteristics principals believe are important in comprising an "exemplary teacher." Public school principals in Rhode Island were surveyed using a questionnaire that categorized many "exemplary teacher" characteristics found in the current literature and those detailed in the No Child Left Behind Act.^ The sample was comprised of public school principals (N = 335) in the State of Rhode Island at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. There were 181 respondents to the survey which is a 54% response rate with a sampling error of 4.9%. Descriptive statistics and one-way ANOVA were used to ascertain any possible differences among elementary, middle, and high school levels. These analyses identify the most important criteria according to the principals across the entire sample and between the three sub-groups.^ The major findings of the study were that principals, regardless of level, found 9 of the top 10 teacher characteristics the same. The top response (has a passion to help students learn and grow) had M = 4.90 with a SD = 0.40. It was also found that there was a statistically significant difference between input and output characteristics (p < 0.05) and output was ranked higher. ^ The implications and significance of the study are that principals' views are heavily biased towards the output criteria (which is mostly observable classroom behavior and attitudes) listed on the 1-5 point Likert-scale survey. There is, however, credible research that claims input criteria (which is the coursework and tests that a person must pass to become a certified teacher) are also important in determining teacher quality.^ The No Child Left Behind Act was rated very low on the survey in terms of helping to determine teacher quality with M = 2.20 overall and SD = 0.99. Open-ended responses confirm this finding.^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Elementary|Education, Teacher Training

Recommended Citation

Monica L Nagy, "Criteria for judging exemplary teachers: A Rhode Island experience" (January 1, 2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3234450.