Study Finds Student Learning Gains in Schools with Multi-Classroom Leaders

In survey after survey, teachers report dissatisfaction with the professional development they receive. Many aren’t satisfied with their professional learning communities or coaching opportunities. Teachers say they want more on-the-job development, career advancement while teaching, and collaboration time.

Some teachers are getting what they want. But is that good news for students? Do their students learn more?

According to a new study released through the CALDER Center, the answer is yes – a lot more. Authors Ben Backes of American Institutes for Research and Michael Hansen of the Brookings Institution found that students of teachers who receive these types of supports from multi-classroom leaders in Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture initiative showed sizable, statistically significant academic gains.

Multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) lead a teaching team, providing guidance and frequent on-the-job coaching while continuing to teach, often by leading small-group instruction. Accountable for the results of all students in the team, they earn supplements that average 20 percent to 50 percent of teacher pay.

In the study, the team teachers were, on average, at the 50th percentile in the student learning gains they produced before joining a team led by an MCL. After joining the teams, they produced learning gains equivalent to those of teachers in the 75th to 85th percentiles in math, and, in six of seven statistical models, from the 66th to 72nd percentiles in reading.

The effects appear to be both direct – with performance improving for individual students in MCL classrooms – and indirect, with whole schools’ growth rising when teachers begin leading even part of a school. They were found when comparing schools that had Opportunity Culture classrooms against schools that had none, as well as in before-and-after results for schools that have implemented the program.

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