Studying High-Quality Teaching in a Highly Charged Policy Environment

Apr. 02, 2012

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 114 Number 4, 2012, p. 9-10.

The passage of No Child Left Behind increased the federal role and the focus on student outcome measures. This change in the policy environment can affect not only teachers and teaching but researchers and research on teaching as well.


This paper examines ways in which the current policy context influences teaching and explores the challenges these influences pose for research on teaching.
To illustrate this potential policy impact, the authors focus on three core dimensions of teaching: who is the teacher, is teaching practice stable or changing, and what constitutes teaching quality.

Research Design
The authors draw on their High-Quality Teaching study of fourth- and fifth-grade reading and mathematics instruction.

The authors analyzed classroom observation data, teacher logs of curriculum coverage, and focus group interviews with school personnel.


The findings indicate underreported, multiple influences on student learning due to both local and federal policies.
Furthermore, the findings indicate unexpected changes in what is taught and in what kind of teaching occurs within the school day, throughout the year, and across years; and narrowing conceptions of teaching quality.

Policy influences on these core dimensions challenge researchers to specify more carefully who is responsible for teaching whom, and examine alternative conceptions of quality teaching.

Updated: May. 28, 2012