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December 2019

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What does recent research say about teacher quality and student achievement?


Thank you for the question you submitted to our REL Reference Desk regarding teacher quality and student achievement. We have prepared the following memo with research references to help answer your question. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. The references are selected from the most commonly used research resources and may not be comprehensive. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Other relevant studies may exist. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

  1. Adnot, M., Dee, T., Katz, V., & Wyckoff, J. (2017). Teacher turnover, teacher quality, and student achievement in DCPS. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 39(1), 54-76.
    Retrieved from
    From the abstract: “In practice, teacher turnover appears to have negative effects on school quality as measured by student performance. However, some simulations suggest that turnover can instead have large positive effects under a policy regime in which low-performing teachers can be accurately identified and replaced with more effective teachers. This study examines this question by evaluating the effects of teacher turnover on student achievement under IMPACT, the unique performance-assessment and incentive system in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Employing a quasi-experimental design based on data from the first years of IMPACT, we find that, on average, DCPS replaced teachers who left with teachers who increased student achievement by 0.08 standard deviation (SD) in math. When we isolate the effects of lower-performing teachers who were induced to leave DCPS for poor performance, we find that student achievement improves by larger and statistically significant amounts (i.e., 0.14 SD in reading and 0.21 SD in math). In contrast, the effect of exits by teachers not sanctioned under IMPACT is typically negative but not statistically significant.”
  2. Akram, M. (2019). Relationship between students’ perceptions of teacher effectiveness and student achievement at secondary school level. Bulletin of Education and Research, 41(2), 93-108. Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “Teacher effectiveness is a process of measuring teaching quality based on quality indicators. High quality teachers are required to demonstrate frequent performance on quality indicators. The purpose of this study was to measure the relationship between teacher effectiveness score and student achievement at secondary school level. Using the multistage sampling technique, 40 high schools (20 male and 20 female) were selected as strata. Later, all 2000 students of grade 9 of these 40 schools in District Okara were sampled. A School Teacher Effectiveness Questionnaire (STEQ) Developed and validated by Akram (2018) was adopted for this study to measure teacher effectiveness. The STEQ was found to be highly reliable (a=.88). Student achievement scores in English and Mathematics of these students were also collected from respective schools. Pearson correlation was used to measure the relationship between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. The study found moderate positive significant relationship between teacher effectiveness score and student achievement. Learning environment demonstrated highest relationship with student achievement in English and Mathematics, followed by effective communication. Multiple regression analysis revealed that 32 percent of variance in student achievement in English and 12 percent of variance in student achievement in Mathematics was explained by teacher effectiveness scores. Further, male and female students did not significantly differ on their perceptions of their teachers' effectiveness. The study provides evidence of validity and reliability of STEQ leading the idea that secondary school students can validly measure teacher effectiveness scores. Limitation includes private tuition that can contribute to student achievement. The study implied that student ratings can be used as a supplement data source of measuring teacher quality.”
  3. Bitler, M. P., Corcoran, S. P., Domina, T., Penner, E. K. (2014). Teacher effects on student achievement and height: A cautionary tale. Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “The growing availability of data linking students to classroom teachers has made it possible to estimate the contribution teachers make to student achievement. While there is a growing consensus that teacher quality is important and current evaluation systems are inadequate, many have expressed concerns over the use of value-added measures (VAMs) in high-stakes personnel decisions. We conduct a new test of the validity of teacher value-added models. We apply traditionally estimated VAM models to an outcome that teachers cannot plausibly have a causal effect on: student height. Any estimated "effect" of teachers on height should raise questions about the extent to which VAMs cleanly distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers. We also examine two potential interpretations for effects of teachers on height. The first is that these effects reflect bias, sorting to teachers on the basis of unobserved factors related to height (that may or may not be related to achievement). The second is that these effects reflect measurement error or other forms of random "noise." Both have implications for the use of VAMs in practice. The findings raise important questions about the extent to which VAMs cleanly distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers. This is especially important when personnel and compensation decisions are tied to individual VAM estimates.”
  4. Gershenson, S. (2016). Linking teacher quality, student attendance, and student achievement. Education Finance and Policy, 11(2), 125-149.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Research on the effectiveness of educational inputs, particularly research on teacher effectiveness, typically overlooks teachers' potential impact on behavioral outcomes, such as student attendance. Using longitudinal data on teachers and students in North Carolina I estimate teacher effects on primary school student absences in a value-added framework. The analysis yields two main findings: First, teachers have arguably causal, statistically significant effects on student absences that persist over time. Second, teachers who improve test scores do not necessarily improve student attendance, suggesting that effective teaching is multidimensional and teachers who are effective in one domain are not necessarily effective in others.”
  5. Gilmour, A. F. & Henry, G. T. (2018). A comparison of teacher quality in math for late elementary and middle school students with and without disabilities. Elementary School Journal, 118(3), 426-451.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Students with disabilities (SWDs) perform below their peers in math on national and state assessments. The quality of teachers who provide these students with math instruction is an unexamined variable that could influence this low achievement. We used data from more than 1 million students to compare the quality of teachers assigned to teach math to fourth- through eighth-grade SWDs and students without disabilities, using multiple indicators of teacher quality. Overall, SWDs had access to teachers of similar quality as their peers, but grouping all disabilities masked heterogeneity. Students with learning disabilities were only 2 to 8 percentage points more likely than their peers to have teachers with special education certification. Based on our findings, the low math achievement of SWDs is unlikely to be the result of limited access to the same teacher quality as their peers without disabilities.”
  6. Hochweber, J. & Vieluf, S. (2018). Gender differences in reading achievement and enjoyment of reading: The role of perceived teaching quality. Journal of Educational Research, 111(3), 268-283.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “The authors examined the extent to which classroom-specific relationships between students' gender and their reading achievement and enjoyment of reading are associated with student-perceived teaching quality. Based on a sample of 10,543 ninth-grade students from 427 classrooms, multilevel analyses revealed that effective classroom management, adequate pacing, and a strong focus on language competencies were related to a less pronounced increase of girls' advantage in reading achievement during Grade 9. High levels of teacher support and focus on language competencies were related to smaller gender differences in enjoyment of reading at the beginning of Grade 9, though not associated with change of these differences over the school year. Our findings suggest that high teaching quality is not only related to higher reading achievement and reading enjoyment in classrooms as a whole, but may also help to mitigate the increase of gender gaps in reading achievement and motivation commonly observed in secondary school.”
  7. Holzberger, D., Praetorius, A., Seidel, T., & Kunter, M. (2019). Identifying effective teachers: The relation between teaching profiles and students’ development in achievement and enjoyment. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 34(4), 801- 823.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Teaching effectiveness has often been described from a variable-centered perspective according to instructional, organizational, and emotional teaching characteristics and their prediction of students' outcomes. Adopting a person-centered approach, the present study analyzed how multiple variables of teaching quality co-occur simultaneously within teachers and how these teaching profiles are related to students' development in achievement and enjoyment. Data from 3483 secondary students and their 155 mathematics teachers were analyzed at two measurement points. A latent profile analysis identified high-, medium-, and low-quality teaching profiles. Multilevel analyses revealed that the high-quality profile--as compared to the medium-quality profile--was positively related to achievement gains, whereas no significant difference was found for students' development in enjoyment. The findings reveal quantitative instead of qualitative teaching profiles and challenge the implicit assumption the higher the better. In particular, effective teachers may not need to display the highest levels in all teaching aspects. Instead, different thresholds for teaching effectiveness may apply for students' achievement gains and emotional development, respectively.”
  8. Kraft, M. A., Blazar, D., & Hogan, D. (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547-588.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Teacher coaching has emerged as a promising alternative to traditional models of professional development. We review the empirical literature on teacher coaching and conduct meta-analyses to estimate the mean effect of coaching programs on teachers' instructional practice and students' academic achievement. Combining results across 60 studies that employ causal research designs, we find pooled effect sizes of 0.49 standard deviations (SD) on instruction and 0.18 SD on achievement. Much of this evidence comes from literacy coaching programs for prekindergarten and elementary school teachers in the United States. Although these findings affirm the potential of coaching as a development tool, further analyses illustrate the challenges of taking coaching programs to scale while maintaining effectiveness. Average effects from effectiveness trials of larger programs are only a fraction of the effects found in efficacy trials of smaller programs. We conclude by discussing ways to address scale-up implementation challenges and providing guidance for future causal studies.”
  9. Lee, S. W. (2018). Pulling back the curtain: Revealing the cumulative importance of high-performing, highly qualified teachers on students’ educational outcomes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40(3), 359-381.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “This study examines the relationship between two dominant measures of teacher quality, teacher qualification and teacher effectiveness (measured by value-added modeling), in terms of their influence on students' short-term academic growth and long-term educational success (measured by bachelor's degree attainment). As students are exposed to teachers of varying quality over the course of their schooling, this study computes cumulative teacher quality indices that are able to more precisely estimate the impact of teacher quality. Notably, this study found that students who had been taught by a succession of high-performing and qualified teachers tend to have a positive relationship with students' short- and long-term educational success.”
  10. Lekwa, A. J., Reddy, L. A., Dudek, C. M., & Hua, A. N. (2019). Assessment of teaching to predict gains in student achievement in urban schools. School Psychology, 34(3), 271- 280. Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “We examined the degree to which assessment of teachers' instructional and behavior management practices, as measured by the Classroom Strategies Assessment System (CSAS; Reddy & Dudek, 2014), relates to gains in student achievement as measured by the Measures of Academic Progress (Northwest Evaluation Association [NWEA], 2011). Two-level hierarchical linear modeling was applied to achievement scores from 2,771 students in 130 kindergarten through 8th-grade classrooms in 13 urban schools serving students in communities with high concentrations of poverty. Results suggest that teachers' use of evidence-based instructional and behavior management strategies, as measured by the CSAS, were associated with reading and mathematics gains. In general, students in classrooms with higher quality use of evidence-based teaching strategies exhibited greater gains, whereas students in classrooms with lower quality use of effective strategies exhibited lesser gains. Implications of these findings for research and educational practice are presented.”
  11. Maruli, S. (2014). Quality in teaching: A review of literature. International Journal of Education and Research, 2(12), 193-200.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “Drawing on literature since 2000, this review explores the definition of quality teaching, the two components of quality teaching, and the characteristics of the elements of these components. There were no consensus on the definition of quality teaching. However, leading scholars have similar views on the quality teaching components, i.e. good teaching and successful teaching. Good teaching related to the effectiveness of teaching behaviors thus it becomes foundation for development of expert teacher, while successful teaching was marked by the achievement of students. The third explores the interface between two components of quality teaching – student engagement in academic. There appears, however, different of quality teaching standards in every context. Thus, this literature review suggests directions for future research.”
  12. Ohle, A., Boone, W. J., & Fischer, H. E. (2015). Investigating the impact of teachers’ physics CK on students’ outcomes. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 13(6), 1211-1233.
    Retrieved from: Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Decreasing student interest and achievement during the transition from elementary to secondary school is an international problem, especially in science education. The question of what factors influence this decline has been a widely discussed topic. This study focuses on investigating the relationship of elementary school teachers' content knowledge (CK) in physics upon the student outcomes of interest and achievement. Data were collected from K-4 elementary school teachers (N = 58) and their students (N = 1,326). Besides questionnaire surveys of teachers and students, one science lesson on the topic "states of matter and phase transitions" of each classroom was videotaped for assessing teaching quality. Analyses from a triangulation of data could not identify an impact of teachers' CK upon students' interest. However, the sequencing of learning processes within a lesson was found to be a positive predictor for students' achievement, although only minimal time was spent on reflective phases during the lessons.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

  • Center for Teaching Quality:
    From the website: “For 20 years, CTQ has led efforts to improve public education, drawing from the expertise and insights of experienced educators. We have worked with thousands of teachers, administrators, and system leaders nationwide, listening to and learning from their experiences, then collaborating with them to create solutions to make public schools better. We help teachers grow as leaders. We partner with administrators and district officials to reimagine how schools work. We bring together teams at all levels to find solutions to improve public schools.”
  • Leading Educators:
    From the website: “Leading Educators strives to make that vision a reality by investing in the single greatest determinant of student success - teachers. We partner with school districts around the country to strengthen teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills through exceptional, school-based professional learning, ultimately improving the quality of teaching and learning in every classroom. Together with leaders at every level of a school system, we create relevant, school-based professional learning structures and supports that empower networks of teacher leaders to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their schools and better equip students to thrive in college, career, and life. Our approach helps school and district leaders make equity-informed shifts that counteract systemic bias and ensure affirming, challenging learning experiences for every child.”
  • National Council on Teacher Quality:
    From the website: “NCTQ researches, evaluates, and provides information and guidance. We propose new changes to restore the teaching profession to strong health so we can provide every child with the education needed to ensure a bright and successful future and to offer all teachers—from aspiring to veteran—the conditions needed to thrive and succeed.”


Search Strings. Teacher quality and student achievement OR teacher quality OR teacher quality impact OR teacher quality impact student achievement OR student achievement teacher quality OR teacher quality influence OR teacher quality influence student achievement OR teaching quality student achievement OR quality of teachers OR quality of teaching and student achievement OR quality of teaching student achievement OR teacher effectiveness literature review OR teacher quality literature review OR teacher value added OR teacher value added student achievement OR teacher VAM literature review OR teacher VAM student achievement

Searched Databases and Resources.

  • ERIC
  • Academic Databases (e.g., EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, ProQuest, Google Scholar)
  • Commercial search engines (e.g., Google)
  • Institute of Education Sciences Resources

Reference Search and Selection Criteria. The following factors are considered when selecting references:

  • Date of Publication: Priority is given to references published in the past 10 years.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: ERIC, other academic databases, Institute of Education Sciences Resources, and other resources including general internet searches
  • Methodology: Priority is given to the most rigorous study types, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs, as well as to correlational designs, descriptive analyses, mixed methods and literature reviews. Other considerations include the target population and sample, including their relevance to the question, generalizability, and general quality.

REL Mid-Atlantic serves the education needs of Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

This Ask A REL was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0006 by Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic administered by Mathematica Policy Research. 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.