What's the impact of teacher experience on student success across the US?
TeacherCertification.com examines teacher experience levels across states and subjects using data from the National Center for Education Statistics
On January 17, 2024, the Biden administration announced their agenda for 2024 to elevate student achievement. This announcement comes when teacher shortages are a significant concern in the country.
The focus on improving student achievements during an era of teacher shortages may place greater emphasis on teacher experience. This is because research indicates that teachers' effectiveness increases the longer they teach. Moreover, this increase in effectiveness has positive outcomes for students on multiple levels, including standardized test scores and attendance. As Business Insider puts it, "students learn more – and attend class more often – when there's an experienced teacher in the room."
In this article, TeacherCertification.com examines teacher experience levels across states and teaching assignments (subjects) using data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Business Insider, which references information from the U.S. Department of Education.
Teacher experience by state
The amount of experience that teachers have varies by state. In 2019, Business Insider used data from the U.S. Department of Education in a report that found that 23.3% of teachers in Oklahoma, whose public school system is ranked third in the nation, have over 20 years of experience.
On the higher end of the spectrum, 32.6% of teachers in North Dakota, ranked ninth in the nation, have over 20 years of experience. However, the correlation between the percentage of teachers with 20 or more years of experience and a state's public school ranking is not perfect.
The state with the highest percentage (33.7%) of teachers with 20 or more years of experience, South Dakota is ranked 21st nationally, while Virginia is ranked fourth with 25.5% of its teachers having at least 20 years of experience.
Teacher experience by subject
The average amount of experience in teachers also varies from subject to subject. On the lower side, 60.6% of Vocational/Technical teachers and 63.3% of Arts and Music teachers have over 10 years of experience. On the higher end, 70% of Health and Physical Education teachers and 67.5% of Foreign Language teachers have this same tenure.
When looking at these subjects – Arts and Music, English or Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics and Computer Science, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Special Education, and Vocational/Technical - as a composite, 65.4% of all teachers have 10 or more years of experience.
Teacher experience and student success
There's a positive correlation between the length of a teacher's career and the outcomes of their students, but what drives this? One possibility is the level of exposure a teacher had to effective professional development opportunities. That is, the longer a teacher teaches, the more professional development they will experience.
EducationWeek defines professional development for teachers as "any kind of ongoing learning opportunity for teachers and other education personnel."
A report from InsideHigherEd explored a study conducted by the Association of College and University Educators. This study involved over 570 members from 10 institutions who participated in a professional development course on effective teaching practices. These institutions include California State University, Northridge; the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Houston.
Educators who completed a professional development course on effective teaching practices experienced an increase in their overall self-efficacy and growth mindset, with higher perceptions of their teaching improvement behaviors and teaching enthusiasm.
Students of educators who completed a professional development course on effective teaching practices could more confidently participate in class, attend office hours, manage their coursework, and meet their deadlines. These students also experienced a significant increase in their own growth mindset.
While the students never experienced the content of this professional development course, these results suggest that the shifts in the faculty's self-belief can influence students.