Students perform better in schools where teachers have input into key school decisions, according to new research funded by the Carnegie Corporation. The study found that students in schools with the greatest levels of teacher leadership perform at least 10 percentage points higher in both math and English language arts proficiency on their state assessments, when compared with schools where teachers have little or no input, after controlling for poverty, class size and school size.
Researchers Richard Ingersoll and Phil Sirinides of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and Patrick Dougherty of the New Teacher Center examined five years of data on the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning Survey. The survey has an average response rate of 83 percent and includes responses from more than 880,000 teachers from 24,645 schools in 16 states.
The data revealed that teachers having authority for student behavioral and discipline decisions had the greatest impact on student achievement. A one-unit difference (on a four-unit scale from none to large) in the role of teachers in establishing student discipline procedures was associated with an 11 percentile difference in that school’s ranking in math proficiency.
The next strongest influence on achievement was delegating to teachers an influential role in school-improvement planning. Schools in which faculty have a large role in school planning ranked, on average, more than 20 percentile points higher in English language arts than schools in which faculty have little or no say in that area.
The effect of giving teachers a real voice in discipline and planning was greater than the isolated impact derived from giving teachers control over selecting textbooks, choosing grading practices and other instructional issues.
Since teachers in the majority of schools reported having little or no role in disciplinary policy or school improvement planning, the researchers say their findings offer a strong rationale for rethinking decision-making practices in schools.