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Can moving teachers between grades actually be harmful to students?

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Did you know that moving teachers between grade levels, or "grade switching," can actually be harmful to student achievement? Read more in Can Moving Teachers Between Grade Levels Actually Be Harmful to Students?, a brief with specific tips on what school leaders can do to mitigate the damage from grade switching when planning teacher assignments for the coming year. 


  • Grade switching isn't good for teachers. When you switch a teacher between grades, her rate of improvement drops by as much as 20 percent—no matter the teacher's level of experience or the grade level.
  • The negative impact on student learning is big and can still be measured two years out. Research shows that students taught by a teacher who typically teaches another grade level experienced the equivalent of about 42 to 50 days less learning (that's more than two months!) in the initial year and another 22 days in the following year.
  • "Strategic" grade switching may actually backfire. Shifting your strongest teachers to tested grades seems like a logical approach, but it often involves moving those less effective teachers into the earlier (untested) grades. Given that this is when children learn how to read, this strategy can do real damage that is hard to undo in later grades.
  • Our most vulnerable students are more likely to be assigned to teachers who switched grades than others. Students of color, students of lower socio-economic status, and English learners are more likely to have teachers who have been switched to new grades, meaning that these students disproportionately suffer the effects of these lower-performing teachers.
  • Keeping teachers in the same grade helps with teacher retention. Teachers who switch grades tend to leave their schools the next year at a rate 40 percent higher than average.

Download Can Moving Teachers Between Grade Levels Actually Be Harmful to Students? to learn more about what can be done to protect against the harm of grade switching.