Categories for Quality Teachers

How Effective Is Teacher Merit Pay?

April 17, 2017

Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis

Teacher merit pay has garnered significant attention as a promising reform method for improving teacher performance and, more importantly, student achievement scores. This meta-analysis, which examined findings from 44 studies of teacher merit pay, found that merit pay is associated with a modest, statistically significant, positive effect on student test scores. The research also found that not all merit pay programs are equal. The best results are dependent on constructing efforts that incorporate sound, evidence-based practice elements. The authors of the meta-analysis concluded that while a merit pay program has the potential to improve student test scores, success hinges on school administrators and policymakers paying close attention to how the program is structured and implemented. The meta-analysis also recognized the need for additional research to better delineate features and practice elements that produce the best results.

Citation: Pham, L., Nguyen, T., & Springer, M. (2017). Teacher Merit Pay and Student Test Scores: A Meta-Analysis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University.




Read to be Ready

February 8, 2017

The Tennessee Department of Education combines coaching, instruction in evidence-based reading practices, and a multitiered system of supports in a new initiative called Read to be Ready. The initiative trains teachers in the best ways to teach children literacy skills. Ample evidence supports the importance of students reading at grade level. Effective reading has been shown to be a reliable indicator of future success in school and adulthood. This initiative is designed to increase literacy by coaching teachers on how to use evidence-based practices of reading. For the past 20 years much attention has been paid to explicit instruction of phonics to improve students’ reading scores. This initiative will build on these efforts by also requiring explicit comprehension instruction to build skills for deriving meaning, analyzing the logic of argumentation, generating conclusions, and interpreting content.



Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on Academic Achievement

January 25, 2017

What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses

This paper analyzed the results of research on the effects of ability grouping and acceleration on students’ academic achievement. Nineteen meta-analyses met criteria for inclusion for the review. The researchers divided ability grouping into four types:

  • between-class ability grouping, students in the same grade divided into low, medium, or high level classes;
  • within-class ability grouping, students within a classroom taught in groups based on levels;
  • cross-grade subject grouping, students of different grades combined into the same class depending on achievement; and
  • grouping for gifted students

Results were found for improved academic achievement within-class grouping, cross-grade grouping by subject, and grouping for the gifted. No positive effects were identified for between-class grouping. The results were consistent regardless of whether students were high, medium, or low achievers. The study found acceleration appeared to have a positive, moderate, and statistically significant impact on students’ academic achievement.

Steenbergen-Hu, S., Makel, M. C., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2016). What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 849-899.



New Report on Teacher Preparation Entry Standards

December 9, 2016

Within Our Grasp Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep

Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep is the tenth annual publication in the State Teacher Policy Yearbook report series released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). This report focuses on teacher preparation program compliance with admissions policies required at the state level. A strong body of research supports a relationship between student performance and the selectivity of admissions into teacher preparation. Nations, such as Finland, whose students outperform ours on national tests recruit teacher candidates from the top 10 percent of their college graduates.

Walsh, K., Joseph, N., and Lewis, A. (2016). Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep. National Council on Teacher Quality



Changing The Culture Of Teacher Preparation

December 18, 2014

This paper considers issues confronted by National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) upon publishing their second edition of Teacher Prep Review, a comprehensive evaluation of programs that train new teachers. Read More…



Better All the Time: High Performance Coaching for Educators

December 15, 2014

In a recent article in The New Yorker, James Surowiecki makes the argument that high performance coaching for athletes and classical musicians has become the standard for these professions and posits that it should be for educators as well. His position is that coaching is the best way to assure that teachers know the right things to do and continue to do them.

Surowiecki, J. (Nov. 10, 2014) Better all the time. The New Yorker.



2013 Wing Research Grant Results

July 8, 2014

The Impact of Behavior Skill Training and Coaching on Implementation of Practices

The results of last year’s Wing Institute’s 2013 research grant are now available on our web site. Mary Sawyer submitted the selected study that examines the Read More…