Linda Darling-Hammond recently created a new institute to study teaching and learning, called the Learning Policy Institute. Given her scholarly background, you can be sure that anything LPI produces will be rigorously researched.

In one of its first research summaries, the LPI concluded that “Teachers Improve As They Gain Experience.”

This would seem to be common-sense, but the corporate reform movement has repeated again and again that teachers improve in the first three years, but then plateau and improve no more after the first three-five years. They use this claim to advocate for Teach for America and other fast-track programs and to ignore the exodus of highly experienced teachers. As a result of this counterintuitive and actually false belief, so-called “reformers” have advocated for and enacted state laws that encourage veteran teachers to leave the profession. For example, North Carolina raised entry salaries for teachers to $35,000 but capped salaries for experienced teachers at $50,000. Florida offers bonuses for new teachers who had high SAT scores in high school (!), but no bonuses to encourage the most experienced teachers to stay in the profession.

Thus, it is of the utmost importance that respected researchers have refuted the claim that teachers do not improve as they gain experience. This is one of the worst canards of the corporate reform movement, and one that is harming the teaching profession and the nation’s children.

Here is a summary of the research report.

Here is the report.

Here is the press release:


Teachers Improve as They Gain Experience

Comprehensive LPI review analyzes 30 studies on the effect of teaching experience on student achievement

Do teachers plateau early in their career or do they continue to grow and improve as they gain experience? It’s a critical question that has implications for local, state, and federal education leaders and policymakers. And it’s the subject of the latest report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research.

Based on their analysis of 30 recent, methodologically rigorous studies on the impact of teaching experience on student outcomes, authors Tara Kini and Anne Podolsky find that as teachers gain experience, they are more likely to positively impact student achievement and improve critical behaviors, including attendance. The steepest gains are in the first few years of teaching, but teachers gain in effectiveness throughout their careers, especially when they are in collegial work environments. Experienced teachers also have a positive impact on the performance of their peers.

“This report shows that what is widely accepted as true in the business world—that individuals improve their performance with experience—is also true in teaching,” says LPI Senior Policy Advisor Kini, who co-authored the report.

These findings come at an important time. Nationwide, we’re seeing a “greening” of the teacher workforce. But inexperienced teachers aren’t evenly distributed throughout schools. Black, Latino, American Indian, and Native-Alaskan students are three to four times more likely to attend schools with higher concentrations of first-year teachers than White students. New teachers are also more likely to be concentrated in high-poverty schools.

In addition to a detailed analysis of the research, the report includes recommendations to address these inequities—a requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act—and offers program and investment strategies to attract, retain, and develop talented teachers who have opportunities to learn and grow throughout their careers.

Read the full report and the research brief, Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research, both of which are available on our website.


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About The Learning Policy Institute

The Learning Policy Institute conducts and communicates independent high-quality research to improve education. Working with policymakers, researchers, community groups, and others, we seek to advance evidence-based policies that support empowering and equitable learning for each and every child. For more information, please visit http://www.learningpolicyinstitute.org.

Learning Policy Institute
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info@learningpolicyinstitute.org