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Teacher Stress
September 2020


What does the research say about the impact of teacher stress on student outcomes?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


Arens, A. K., & Morin, A. J. (2016). Relations between teachers' emotional exhaustion and students' educational outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(6), 800–813.

From the Abstract:
"Studies investigating the effects of emotional exhaustion among teachers have primarily focused on its relations with teacher-related outcome variables but little research has been done for examining its relations with student outcomes. Therefore, this study examines the relations between teachers' emotional exhaustion and educational outcomes among students. Students' educational outcomes considered here cover a wide range of cognitive (i.e., achievement in terms of school grades and standardized achievement test scores) and noncognitive (competence self-perceptions, school satisfaction, and perceptions of teacher support) outcomes. The analyses are based on the PIRLS 2006 German data including 380 teachers and 7,899 4th grade students. The results demonstrated direct negative relations between teachers' emotional exhaustion and the class average of students' school grades, standardized achievement test scores, school satisfaction, and perceptions of teacher support, but not competence self-perceptions. At the individual student level, the results showed significant relations between noncognitive outcomes and academic achievement."

Herman, K. C., Hickmon-Rosa, J. E., & Reinke, W. M. (2018). Empirically derived profiles of teacher stress, burnout, self-efficacy, and coping and associated student outcomes. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 20(2), 90–100.

From the Abstract:
"Understanding how teacher stress, burnout, coping, and self-efficacy are interrelated can inform preventive and intervention efforts to support teachers. In this study, we explored these constructs to determine their relation to student outcomes, including disruptive behaviors and academic achievement. Participants in this study were 121 teachers and 1,817 students in grades kindergarten to fourth from nine elementary schools in an urban Midwestern school district. Latent profile analysis was used to determine patterns of teacher adjustment in relation to stress, coping, efficacy, and burnout. These profiles were then linked to student behavioral and academic outcomes. Four profiles of teacher adjustment were identified. Three classes were characterized by high levels of stress and were distinguished by variations in coping and burnout ranging from (a) high coping/low burnout (60%) to (b) moderate coping and burnout (30%), to (c) low coping/high burnout (3%). The fourth class was distinguished by low stress, high coping, and low burnout. Only 7% of the sample fell into this Well-Adjusted class. Teachers in the high stress, high burnout, and low coping class were associated with the poorest student outcomes. Implications for supporting teachers to maximize student outcomes are discussed."

Herman, K. C., Prewett, S. L., Eddy, C. L., Savala, A., & Reinke, W. M. (2020). Profiles of middle school teacher stress and coping: Concurrent and prospective correlates. Journal of School Psychology, 78, 54–68. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This study examined the stress and coping patterns of middle school teachers. A final teacher sample of 102 and student sample of 1450 agreed to participate in the study. We conducted a latent profile analysis of the teachers' self-reported levels of stress and coping at the beginning of the school year and used the resulting profiles to predict teacher practices and student outcomes over time. Nearly all teachers were characterized by high stress and high coping (66%) or high stress and low coping (28%). Based on concurrent ratings and observations, the High Stress/Low Coping profile had higher burnout and lower self-efficacy, higher rates of observed reprimands, and higher student-reported depression in comparison to the other classes. The most adaptive profile, Low Stress/High Coping (6% of sample), had lower burnout, greater parent involvement and higher student prosocial skills in comparison to the other groups. Profiles also predicted the maintenance of most of these effects and the increase of some effects over the school year. Examining stress and coping in combination can inform efforts to improve teacher well-being and have a positive influence on student learning environments."

Klusmann, U., Richter, D., & Lüdtke, O. (2016). Teachers' emotional exhaustion is negatively related to students' achievement: Evidence from a large-scale assessment study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(8), 1193–1203. Full text available

From the Abstract:
"Prior research has demonstrated that teachers' professional knowledge and motivation are strongly related to students' learning and motivation. Symptoms of teachers' stress and burnout (e.g., emotional exhaustion) are also thought to influence students' achievement, but no empirical study has tested this prediction. Using multilevel analyses and a representative sample consisting of 1,102 German elementary school teachers and their students, we addressed this gap in knowledge by examining the association between teachers' emotional exhaustion and students' achievement in mathematics, and by testing whether classroom composition moderates this relation. We controlled for teachers' gender, their years of experience, their teaching certificate, and the composition of the class, and on the student level for students' gender, language spoken at home, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability. Results revealed that teachers' emotional exhaustion was significantly negatively related to students' mathematics achievement, even after teacher characteristics and classroom composition were controlled for. Classroom composition moderated this relation, whereby teachers' emotional exhaustion was more strongly related to students' achievement in classes with a high percentage of language minority students. These results highlight the importance of teachers' well-being for students' learning."

McLean, L., & Connor, C. M. (2015). Depressive symptoms in third‐grade teachers: Relations to classroom quality and student achievement. Child Development, 86(3), 945–954. Full text available

From the Abstract:
"This study investigated associations among third-grade teachers' (N = 27) symptoms of depression, quality of the classroom-learning environment (CLE), and students' (N = 523, Mage = 8.6 years) math and literacy performance. Teachers' depressive symptoms in the winter negatively predicted students' spring mathematics achievement. This depended on students' fall mathematics scores; students who began the year with weaker math skills and were in classrooms where teachers reported more depressive symptoms achieved smaller gains than did peers whose teachers reported fewer symptoms. Teachers' depressive symptoms were negatively associated with quality of CLE, and quality of CLE mediated the association between depressive symptoms and student achievement. The findings point to the importance of teachers' mental health, with implications for policy and practice."

Schmidt, L., & Jones-Fosu, S. (2019). Teacher stress in urban classrooms: A growing epidemic. Urban Education Research & Policy Annuals, 6(2), 18–25. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"About half of educators in the field have reported experiencing excessive amounts of stress several days a week, but this issue is even greater for teachers in urban schools. Urban teacher stress is due to a number of unique variables such as lack of resources, student behavior and disrespect, unattainable goals while teaching students below grade level, and lack of support both financially and emotionally. As a result, teacher stress not only affects the teachers themselves but also their students in urban settings. This research paper reveals the cause and effects of 121 urban teachers' stress, including student academic performance and behavior, and explores solutions to help reduce the amount of stress urban teachers endure. In a review of this correlational study, levels of teacher stress and burnout were identified using Likert-type scales and their students' academic achievement in reading and math were measured with the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement to determine the impact of stress. This critical issue in urban education must be brought into the spotlight soon or students will greatly suffer as our country continues to lose qualified, motivated novice teachers to stress."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources:"Teacher stress", "Student achievement", "Student outcomes", "Academic achievement", "Students"

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.