October 31, 2017

Students perform better when teachers have a greater role in school leadership, Richard Ingersoll finds

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Students in schools where teachers have a greater role in school leadership and design of instruction perform better in mathematics and English language proficiency, as detailed in a new white paper from Penn GSE’s Richard Ingersoll.

Richard Ingersoll is a member of Penn GSE's top-ranked Education Policy division.

Ingersoll’s study — an analysis of data from the New Teacher Center’s Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL) survey of almost 1.3 million teachers — found students in schools with higher levels of instructional leadership and teacher leadership perform at least 10 percentage points higher in both mathematics and English language arts proficiency on their state assessments.

Students were also found to learn more when teacher leaders are involved in shaping student discipline policies and school improvement planning, Ingersoll details in the white paper published by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

The results have strong implications for the ongoing conversation about the role classroom teachers can and should play in school leadership. Ingersoll told Education Week that many teachers would not be surprised by the results.

"They know the kids. One size doesn't fit all," Ingersoll told Education Week. "I think it's [better when] teachers have a voice in the culture of the place and some sense of ownership. ... Behavior and discipline stuff—that's huge. That's half your job." 

 "This report demonstrates that school leadership isn't just the role of one person in the main office," says Penn GSE’s Richard Ingersoll. "The data shows schools that bring teachers into the leadership process also have better student performance.  We hope more superintendents and principals take this into account."

This policy brief follows a paper Ingersoll published in partnership with the New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit focused on improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders.