Study confirms that teaching experience increases teacher effectiveness

A new analysis of research by the Learning Policy Institute verifies what many educators have long known: teaching experience is associated with student achievement gains.

Based on a review of 30 studies published within the last 15 years, the authors find that as teachers gain experience throughout their careers, their students’ achievement gains increase. Although the steepest gains in effectiveness are in the first few years of teaching, this improvement continues in the second and often third decade of their careers, especially when they work in collegial work environments.

Other findings include:

  • Experienced teachers have a positive impact on the performance of their peers.
  • As teachers gain experience, their students are more likely to do better on other measures of success beyond test scores, such as school attendance.
  • Teachers make greater gains in their effectiveness when they accumulate experience in the same grade level, subject, or district.
  • More experienced teachers confer benefits to their colleagues, their students, and to the school as a whole.

The report – titled “Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research” – has important implications for policymakers who are seeking to improve learning and close achievement gaps. Its findings highlight the value of retaining experienced teachers and offer strategies to improve their effectiveness.

The report also raises equity concerns, since inexperienced teachers tend to be highly concentrated in underserved schools serving high-need students. Correcting this problem is a goal of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which requires districts and states to monitor and address teacher equity gaps, including the distribution of effective and experienced teachers.

The findings aren’t surprising to Wisconsin educators, who see the impacts of the revolving door of teaching in our state. The findings are also supported by other research, including the following:

Do supportive professional environments promote teacher development? (PDF)
New Studies Find That, for Teachers, Experience Really Does Matter (Web)

Taken together, there are quite a few policy implications regarding teacher professionalism, working conditions, teacher retention, and teacher professional development. Specifically, the research makes the case that policymakers should support policies and investments that advance the ongoing development and professional growth of an experienced teaching workforce, and increase the retention of experienced and effective teachers.

Visit WEAC’s Professional Resources Page for at-your-fingertips support to build the teaching professions.

WEAC partners with the Great Lakes Center to share and provide timely, academically sound reports and briefs on selected education-related practices, policies and publications. WEAC President Betsy Kippers sits on the Great Lakes Board of Directors and passes along this report from the Learning Policy Institute on teaching experience and teacher effectiveness.