A Breakdown of the Relationship Between School Climate, Teacher Retention, and Student Achievement
By: Alyssa Mattero, Partnerships Manager
A recent report from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU examined the relationship between teacher retention, school climate, and student achievement. Here’s a breakdown of how these three important factors can influence one another.
School Climate and Teacher Turnover
The NYU study found a strong correlation between increases in all areas of school climate and decreases in teacher turnover. This suggests that improving the school climate could have an impact on teacher retention.
According to the Safe and Supportive Schools model, positive school climate includes:
- Safety – Schools and school-related activities where students are safe from bullying, violence, harassment, and controlled-substance use.
- Environment – Appropriate facilities, available school-based health supports, well-managed classrooms, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy.
- Engagement – Strong relationships between students, teachers, families, and schools and strong connections between schools and the broader community.
When school safety, environment, and engagement are high, teachers will likely have a more positive experience at work. Furthermore, a strong school climate may lessen the challenges that many teachers face when working with students who are struggling in a poor school climate. These benefits will likely improve the overall experience for the teacher, which will make them less likely to leave the profession.
School Climate and Student Achievement
The NYU report also found evidence that improving school climate may help promote student academic achievement. Improvements in school safety and academic expectations were found to be predictive of faster growth in students’ math test scores. When a school has a positive climate, this allows students to focus on learning and demonstrate improvement at faster rates than schools with weaker climates.
A 2008 study found that schools who measured strong in areas like school leadership, parent support, faculty quality and school safety and order, were 10 times more likely to show substantial gains in reading and math than schools with strengths in only one or two areas.
Teacher Turnover and Student Achievement
About 20 percent of all new teachers leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, nearly 50 percent of new educators leave the profession during their first five years of teaching (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2007.) Whether a teacher is chronically absent or the educator leaves the profession and the school needs to recruit another teacher, student learning can be at risk. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when a teacher misses 10 or more days out of one school year, student academic growth begins to suffer. The number of student absences also correlates directly to their achievement. Numerous research studies have shown that chronic student absenteeism can lead to decreased graduation rate and increased achievement gaps.
Evidently, it’s very important for schools to work with their teachers and the community to cultivate a positive school climate. A great place for any school to start is with their teachers. Learn how schools can increase teacher effectiveness in the classroom and improve learning outcomes by using a tool like Tripod Student Surveys.
Read this blog post to learn more.