TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

Driving change through research: A look back at 2023

See all posts
Every education leader wants to make decisions that are backed by research on what works for students, their teachers, and schools. But gaining access to that research takes quite a lot of time, and it's not always clear what educators should do based on the findings.

Through NCTQ's Teacher Quality Bulletin (TQB), we seek to distill that research into clear, actionable information for education leaders. At the end of the year, we look back to see which of our editorials and blog posts garnered the most traction, as one piece of insight into where the field is focusing its attention. The most-read op-eds and research pieces in this year's Teacher Quality Bulletin tell a story of the education field attending to a few key areas: ensuring every student can read, incorporating technology to improve instruction, and understanding who should comprise our educator workforce.

Most-read editorial of 2023
The education field has focused squarely on improving reading outcomes for kids, and that is reflected in our top editorial from NCTQ President Dr. Heather Peske. In Teaching reading is brain science, Dr. Peske explores groundbreaking research that demonstrated how scientifically based research instruction actually changes people's neural pathways to help them become more efficient and effective readers. We're now seeing a groundswell in states and districts turning toward research-based methods of reading instruction based on this understanding of how children learn to read.

The research on how children learn to read is helpfully summarized in another quite popular piece, Ten maxims: What we've learned so far about how children learn to read, guest authored by Dr. Reid Lyon.

Five most-read research blogs of 2023
The most read research piece of 2023 explores how to use technology to support teachers in honing their instruction. Teachers and students win from video-based professional coaching shares a study that found that teachers who received five cycles of video-based coaching improved their students' ELA achievement, and the gains were greatest for students whose teachers had been weaker to start with (based on teachers' observation scores). As usesand abusesfor artificial intelligence and more familiar forms of technology expand, it's helpful to look at concrete examples of how technology can be smartly purposed to improve educational outcomes.

Another trend that has escalated since the pandemic is states granting emergency teacher licenses. Often, these licenses are granted without clear plans to evaluate the outcomes. But, in our widely read TQB blog, Meeting the moment with measurement: Massachusetts' lessons from emergency teacher licensure, we share how Massachusetts stands out for tracking outcomes associated with these licenses. Their early findings indicate that teachers with emergency licenses were more diverse, but less likely to be employed in teaching than their traditionally-licensed counterparts. In the piece, we identified a few more questions that we hope Massachusetts would answerand just a few weeks ago, a new study came out answering many of those questions. We hope other states will follow their lead in evaluating the consequences of lowering requirements for becoming a teacher.

While NCTQ focuses primarily on teachers (it's in our name!), we know that teachers do their work side by side with an amazing workforce of other education professionals. It's no surprise, then, that one of our most widely read pieces was about another group of educators: paraprofessionals. In Paraprofessionals: Understudied, undercompensated, and in short supply, explores research on high attrition rates and low pay for paraprofessionals.

Talk of teacher shortages (and policy reactions to those shortages) dominated the education news cycle for quite a while this year. But in one of our most widely read blog posts, New from Illinois: Whether and where teacher shortages exist, and how states can tell, we share a study that found that teacher shortages were not a widespread problem, but rather one concentrated in districts serving more students living in poverty and more students of color. This research offers another piece of evidence that when tackling teacher shortages, states need sufficient data so that they can make the kinds of targeted changes that are more likely to be successful.

Building a more diverse teacher workforce remains a top priority for states and districts, and new research reinforces why. In How Black teachers make a difference, we explore research finding that Black teachers have a positive effect for all students across a range of measures, including reading and math test scores and student attendance. These positive effects may be about good teaching as well as evidence of a role model effect. Given the already ample evidence of the importance of teachers of color, we hope education leaders continue taking steps to build a more diverse teacher workforce.