Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience

by Matthew A. Kraft and John P. Papay, Brown University

ABSTRACT: Although wide variation in teacher effectiveness is well established, much less is known about differences in teacher improvement over time. We document that average returns to teaching experience mask large variation across individual teachers, and across groups of teachers working in different schools. We examine the role of school context in explaining these differences using a measure of the professional environment constructed from teachers' responses to state-wide surveys. Our analyses show that teachers working in more supportive professional environments improve their effectiveness more over time than teachers working in less supportive contexts. On average, teachers working in schools at the 75th percentile of professional environment ratings improved 38% more than teachers in schools at the 25th percentile after ten years.

Having It Both Ways: Building the Capacity of Individual Teachers and Their Schools

by Susan Moore Johnson, Harvard Graduate School of Education

ABSTRACT: In this article, Susan Moore Johnson calls for a balanced approach to improving teaching and learning, one that focuses on both teachers and the contexts in which they work. Drawing on over a decade of research on the experiences of new teachers, Johnson argues that focusing on the effectiveness of individuals while ignoring how their schools are organized limits our capacity to support teachers' work and, thus, to improve the outcomes for our nation's neediest students.