Original Research

Teacher characteristics and student performance: An analysis using hierarchical linear modelling

Paula Armstrong
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 5, No 2 | a393 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v5i2.393 | © 2015 Paula Armstrong | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2015 | Published: 07 December 2015

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Paula Armstrong, University of Stellenbosch

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This research makes use of hierarchical linear modelling to investigate which teacher characteristics are significantly associated with student performance. Using data from the SACMEQ III study of 2007, an interesting and potentially important finding is that younger teachers are better able to improve the mean mathematics performance of their students. Furthermore, younger teachers themselves perform better on subject tests than do their older counterparts. Identical models are run for Sub Saharan countries bordering on South Africa, as well for Kenya and the strong relationship between teacher age and student performance is not observed. Similarly, the model is run for South Africa using data from SACMEQ II (conducted in 2002) and the relationship between teacher age and student performance is also not observed. It must be noted that South African teachers were not tested in SACMEQ II so it was not possible to observe differences in subject knowledge amongst teachers in different cohorts and it was not possible to control for teachers’ level of subject knowledge when observing the relationship between teacher age and student performance. Changes in teacher education in the late 1990s and early 2000s may explain the differences in the performance of younger teachers relative to their older counterparts observed in the later dataset.


Hierarchical linear modelling, education production function, teacher training, teacher characteristics, SACMEQIII, teacher characteristics and student performance


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