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Retention of Effective Teachers Dependent on School Climate, Study Finds

Retention of Effective Teachers Dependent on School Climate, Study Finds

A new study that aimed to determine the relationship between school climate, teacher effectiveness and student achievement found that school climate might be the catalyst for both.

"School Organizational Contexts, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data” specifically analyzed middle schools in New York City, the nation’s largest school district, to arrive at its conclusion.

The researchers, according to, defined school climate through four variables that they then analyzed to see how different rates of each affected teacher retention and therefore effectiveness.

The researchers defined school climate as "changes over time in leadership and professional development, high academic expectations for students, teacher relationships and collaboration, and school safety and order,” said

All four variables, when increased, were related to the retention of effective teachers in the schools studied.

When looking at student achievement, the researchers found that student math scores rose when school safety and academic expectations increase.

The researchers recommend that school leaders looking to improve school climate "produce customized reports on teachers' perceptions of schools' organizational contexts in order to address specific organizational weaknesses,” said

On a similar note, the researchers also recommend that schools use school leaders’ strengths to match them to a school where their strengths will counteract organizational weaknesses.

Education advocates have for some time been pressuring researchers to determine exactly what makes a “good school climate.”

In July, a 74 article titled “Which Comes First, Good Teachers or a Good School? Researchers Say Yes" points to research that school culture and climate directly affects the retention of effective teachers and therefore directly affects student achievement within the school.

On the flip side, the article also pointed to a series of studies that show the value of an individual teacher’s skill set, even in a school struggling to achieve a positive climate.

One report, the article says, "found that teachers moving between high- and low-poverty schools generally maintained the same level of effectiveness. Finally, an experimental study paid highly effective teachers to move to low-performing schools; when they did, test scores rose at their new schools.”

In other words, the new research linking school climate to teacher effectiveness is promising, but experts agree that more research needs to happen before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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