Do teachers get better with more experience?

The Learning Policy Institute has published a review of research into teacher effectiveness as teachers become more experienced. The review takes advantage of advances in research methods and data systems that have allowed researchers to more accurately answer this question. Specifically, by including teacher fixed effects in their analyses, researchers have been able to compare a teacher with multiple years of experience to that same teacher when he or she had fewer years of experience.

The report reviews 30 studies published within the last 15 years that analyse the effect of teaching experience on student outcomes in the United States. The review concludes that:

  • Teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career. Gains in teacher effectiveness associated with experience are most steep in teachers’ initial years, but continue to be significant as teachers reach the second, and often third, decades of their careers.
  • As teachers gain experience, their students not only learn more, as measured by standardised tests, they are also more likely to do better on other measures of success, such as school attendance.
  • Teachers’ effectiveness increases at a greater rate when they teach in a supportive and collegial working environment, and when they accumulate experience 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.

Source: Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research (2016), Learning Policy Institute.

Dutch twins and the importance of teacher experience

A study in the Netherlands has concluded that students do better when taught by experienced teachers. The authors matched date of birth, family name, and school data from the PRIMA longitudinal study of primary schools in the Netherlands to identify 495 twin pairs. The study used data on twins who went to the same school but were assigned to different classes, enabling researchers to assess teacher quality as the main variable.

The results revealed a “robust finding that students in classrooms with more experienced teachers perform better”. This was particularly true of the early years in a child’s education but not exclusively so.

Source: Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Dutch Sample Of Twins (2014), CPB Discussion Paper 294