A Test of Teacher's Aides in Classrooms

Can pupils’ academic skills and well-being be strengthened by having a co-teacher, a resource person or a professional instructor in the classroom? A test in 6th grade shows that teacher’s aides benefit the pupils, but the effect varies depending on, who the aide is. Three kinds of aides were used: A co-teacher with a teaching degree, a resource person without a teaching degree and a professional instructor.

Time period:

2012 - 2014.

Target group:

Pupils in 6th grade.

Number of participants:

221 schools, 68 municipalities, equaling 10.198 pupils.

Intervention:

In the test, schools received resources to hire an extra person in 3/4 of a school year for each class. It was specified which of the following three types of aides it had to be:

  • Co-teacher with teaching degree. The existing teacher in class was supplemented by a person with a teaching degree in Danish, math or special pedagogy. The supplement consisted in preparing and performing teaching. As a minimum, the co-teacher had to take part in 10.5 lessons a week.
  • Resource person without teaching degree. The existing teacher in class was supplemented by a resource person without a teaching degree. The person took part in more lessons in class than the co-teacher, but had less time for preparation. As a minimum the resource person took part in 14.5 lessons a week.
  • Professional instructor. The existing teacher in class received competent feedback from a person with competencies in AKT (Behavior, Contact, and Well-being), reading, math or developmental disorders. The instructor had 2.5 lessons a week with each class.

Research:

The effect of A Test of Teacher's Aides in Classrooms has been evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Among the enrolled schools, a randomization specified, whether the school had to implement one of the three interventions, or to act as a control group. Thus it was random, whether the school implemented one intervention rather than the other (or no intervention). By doing this, the pupils were identical across the different intervention groups, so that eventual differences after the intervention with relatively great certainty would be due to the intervention they received. All 6th grades on each school received the same type of intervention (or control).

The schools were initially divided into groups on the basis of their expected average national test score in 6th grade. In this way, both academic strong and weak schools were represented among intervention- and control schools, so small, random differences between the groups would not occur before the test.

The measurement was made partly with The Danish National Tests in reading and math and partly with a questionnaire that measured the pupils’ well-being. 

Partners:

The Ministry of Children, Education and Gender Equality and Rambøll Mangement Consulting.   

Results:

Both the co-teacher with the teaching degree and the resource person had positive and significant effects on the pupils’ reading skills, whereas they had no measurable effects on the pupils’ results in math.

The intervention benefited different types of pupils depending on the intervention type. The resource person lifted particularly children of poorly educated parents, whereas co-teachers with teaching degrees primarily had a positive effect on girls. Furthermore, it is only the co-teachers with teaching degrees, who increase the well-being in classes, in which two or more pupils have a psychiatric diagnosis.

The professional instructor, who is the cheapest of the three interventions, only had an effect in classes in which one or more pupils had a psychiatric diagnosis. Here a relatively big effect is seen on the pupils’ reading results, for both pupils, who have a psychiatric diagnosis, but also for their classmates.  

Project Group

Simon Calmar Andersen

Professor
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H bldg. 1340, 327
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Helena Skyt Nielsen

Professor
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P +4529216971
P +4529216971

Mette Kjærgaard Thomsen

Assistant Professor

Publications

Simon Calmar Andersen, Louise Voldby Beuchert-Pedersen, Helena Skyt Nielsen og Mette Kjærgaard Thomsen (2015): The Effect of Teacher's Aides in the Classroom: Evidence from a Randomized Trial.