Does Teaching Experience Matter? Let’s Count the Ways

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Courtesy of National Education Association

One of the most popular pieces of conventional wisdom in the national debate over education is that teachers lose the capacity to further improve student achievement after only a few years in the classroom – their effectiveness plateaus early in their careers. This perception has framed debates on everything from teacher quality, professional pay, due process, and teacher retention and recruitment. But is it supported by research? The Learning Policy Institute recently dove into existing data, surveys and reports to shed some light on the relationship between teaching experience and student outcomes. The verdict: experience matters – even in the second decade of teaching and beyond.

“The common refrain that teaching experience does not matter after the first few years in the classroom is no longer supported by the preponderance of the research,” Tara Kini and Anne Podolsky write in Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? “We find that teaching experience is, on average, positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.” Based on their analysis of 30 studies published over the past 15 years, Kini and Podolsky find that:

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

  • Gains in teacher effectiveness are most striking during the first five years in the classroom, but continue to increase during the second, and often third, decade of a career.
  • As teachers gain experience, students’ academic gains are not the only benefit. School attendance also improves.
  • For teachers to be effective at any point in their career, they must be a part of a supportive and collegial school environment. Stability in teaching assignments is also key. Teachers are most effective in the same grade level, subject, or district.
  • More experienced teachers support greater student learning for their colleagues and the school as a whole, as well as for their own students. Novice teachers, in particular, benefit most from having more experienced colleagues.

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