Recent research has found that there are four organisational and administrative factors that can improve teacher retention rates and lift pupil test scores in maths.

Schools are more likely to retain effective teachers, if they are led by headteachers who promote professional development for teaching staff, a new report by Brown University has found. Other beneficial factors include, promoting collaborative relationships among teachers, a safe and orderly learning environment and high expectations of academic achievement among students.

The study, which focused on middle schools in New York City, expands the context in which teacher’s impact and student attainment is considered. Commenting on the findings, Matthew Kraft, the lead author of the study said:

 “In recent years, researchers and policymakers have focused much of their attention on measuring and improving teacher effectiveness. However, teachers do not work in a vacuum; their school’s climate can either enhance or undermine their ability to succeed with students.”

The study, entitled “School Organizational Contexts, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data,” involved researchers studying changes over time in leadership and professional development, high academic expectations for students, teacher relationships and collaboration, and school safety order.

 “Using annual school survey data allowed us to explore, for the first time, how changes in the quality of individual school climates were linked to corresponding changes in teacher turnover and student achievement over several years,” Kraft said.

Researchers found strong links between advancements in all four factors of school climate and decreases in teacher turnover. This suggests that bettering the work environment for teachers could play a vital role in retaining effective teachers. The study also concluded that improving a school’s work environment in accordance with the four factors studied, could improve gains in student’s academic performance. According to Kraft, improvements in school safety and academic expectations, predicted faster growth in maths attainment.