A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Teacher Collaboration for School Improvement and Student Achievement in Public Elementary Schools


Work data:

Alternate URL:
pdf file http://education.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/casei/collaboration_studentachievement.pdf

Type of work: Article (academic)





A review of the literature demonstrates that schools are frequently called upon to improve by developing high levels of teacher collaboration. At the same time, there is a paucity of research investigating the extent to which teachers’ collaborative school improvement practices are related to student achievement.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:

The purpose of this study was to review the literature and empirically test the relationship between a theoretically driven measure of teacher collaboration for school improvement and student achievement.


The data for this study were drawn from students and teachers in a large urban school district located in the midwestern United States.


The population for this study came from the elementary schools in one large midwestern school district. Survey data were drawn from a sample of 47 elementary schools with 452 teachers and 2,536 fourth-grade students.

Research Design:

Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was the primary analytic method. Survey data were colleted approximately 2 months before students took the mandatory state assessments, which provided the scale scores that served as dependent variables in this research. HLM accounted for the nested nature of the data (students nested in schools).

This was a naturalistic study that employed secondary data analysis. There was no intervention, treatment, or randomization. Naturally occurring differences in teachers’ levels of collaboration were measured, and statistical controls for school social context were employed. At the student level, the study employed controls for children’s social and academic backgrounds.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Data were obtained from teachers and students in the sampled schools. Teacher data were obtained via a survey assessing teacher collaboration. Student data were obtained from the central administrative office of the school district for all students who attended sampled schools during the year in which we surveyed teachers.


Results of HLM analyses indicate that fourth-grade students have higher achievement in mathematics and reading when they attend schools characterized by higher levels of teacher collaboration for school improvement.


The authors suggest that the results provide preliminary support for efforts to improve student achievement by providing teachers with opportunities to collaborate on issues related to curriculum, instruction, and professional development. The authors also discuss the need for more research on the effects of different types of collaborative practices using more representative samples.