Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teacher collaboration, professional communities improve many elementary school students' math scores

Date:
June 5, 2013
Source:
American Sociological Association
Summary:
Many elementary students' math performance improves when their teachers collaborate, work in professional learning communities or do both, yet most students don't spend all of their elementary school years in these settings, a new study shows.

Many elementary students' math performance improves when their teachers collaborate, work in professional learning communities or do both, yet most students don't spend all of their elementary school years in these settings, a new study by UNC Charlotte researchers shows. The U.S. Department of Education funded the study, which the journal Sociology of Education recently published.

As school districts work to improve math scores and narrow racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, many schools may have overlooked the impact of teacher collaboration and professional community on student success. Collaboration involves teachers working together to promote student achievement. A professional community exists when teachers feel a sense of belonging to a school, take pride in the school, understand and accept the school's mission, and are constantly learning strategies to improve student achievement.

The research shows that some schools have developed strong professional communities that strive to help students succeed, but have not fostered an environment where teachers are constantly collaborating, or working together, to plan their lessons and discuss student needs.

Other schools have cultivated collaborative planning and teaching, but have teachers who do not feel that they are part of a professional community. Few schools have effectively developed both teacher collaboration and professional communities.

Some students benefit from a collaborative setting, while others benefit from a professional community, which means schools should focus on both to help a larger number of students, the study suggests.

"A troubling finding from our study is that the majority of students are not studying in schools where teachers work together and where teachers feel that they are part of professional learning communities," said study author Stephanie Moller, a faculty member in the Department of Sociology. "African American students are less likely than white and Hispanic students to study in these schools, despite the fact that they benefit the most from studying in such schools."

Moller's co-authors are Roslyn Mickelson, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Stearns, Ph.D.; Martha Bottia, Ph.D., and Neena Banerjee, all with UNC Charlotte.

Study findings suggest that school leaders have the power to enhance math test scores and reduce gaps in scores across groups of students by encouraging teaching environments where community and professional teamwork are valued and rewarded, the study authors said.

"The path toward developing these environments in our schools is not without obstacles," Moller said. "School leaders require a supportive district that provides resources for professional development while also allowing teachers time to work collaboratively. Leadership must also work to obtain teacher buy-in, as a forced community is rarely productive."

The current policy climate may make it difficult for school leaders to develop collaborative, professional communities in schools because the strategies for ensuring accountability have increased competition among teachers and decreased trust and morale, the researchers said. "These strategies should be revisited to ensure that they promote and reward collaboration among teachers." Moller said.

The researchers used a sub-sample of 4,490 students, who attended public elementary schools between 1998 and 2003, from the U.S. Department of Education's nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. This study focuses on grades K through 5 because most students who struggle in math at early ages continue to struggle in middle and high school. As years pass, the test score gaps that existed in the early grades widen, many studies have shown.

The research was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant r305a100822 to UNC Charlotte.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Sociological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Moller, R. A. Mickelson, E. Stearns, N. Banerjee, M. C. Bottia. Collective Pedagogical Teacher Culture and Mathematics Achievement: Differences by Race, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status. Sociology of Education, 2013; 86 (2): 174 DOI: 10.1177/0038040712472911

Cite This Page:

American Sociological Association. "Teacher collaboration, professional communities improve many elementary school students' math scores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605130219.htm>.
American Sociological Association. (2013, June 5). Teacher collaboration, professional communities improve many elementary school students' math scores. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605130219.htm
American Sociological Association. "Teacher collaboration, professional communities improve many elementary school students' math scores." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605130219.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: Ebola's Economic Impact Could Eclipse SARS

Breakingviews: Ebola's Economic Impact Could Eclipse SARS

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 18, 2014) The virus ravaging Africa has yet to spread elsewhere. Yet Asia’s SARS crisis in 2003 showed how changes to behaviour can hurt the economy more than the actual disease, says Breakingviews' Una Galani. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New USDA measures to regulate dog imports aim to crack down on buying dogs from overseas puppy mills. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Workers in Sierra Leone Risk Lives to Battle Ebola

Health Workers in Sierra Leone Risk Lives to Battle Ebola

AFP (Aug. 18, 2014) Sierra Leone has lost 32 nurses since the end of May to the Ebola virus, an epidemic that's now claimed 1,145 lives in west Africa. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Teacher Collaboration, Professional Communities Improve Many Elementary School Students' Math Scores

June 7, 2013 Many elementary students' math performance improves when their teachers collaborate, work in professional learning communities or do both, yet most students don't spend all of their ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins