Students who go to schools where their teachers have a leadership role in decisionmaking perform significantly better on state tests, a new study finds.
But some of the leadership elements that are most related to student achievement are the ones that are least often implemented in schools.
That’s according to a new analysis of data from the New Teacher Center’s Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning survey, which asks questions about teaching, learning, and working conditions in schools. Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the report’s lead author, studied responses from 2011 to 2015, which included data from nearly 1 million teachers from more than 25,000 schools, in 16 states.
He looked at two aspects of leadership: Do school leaders have an instructional focus, in the sense that they place teaching and learning at the center of their decisionmaking? And are teachers included in that decisionmaking beyond the classroom?
Schools with the highest levels of instructional and teacher leadership rank at least 10 percentile points higher in both math and English/language arts on state tests, compared to schools with the lowest levels—even after controlling for factors like school poverty, size, and location.
This is the first large-scale study that has linked teacher leadership to student test scores, Ingersoll said.