Cover: How Much Influence Do Teachers Have in Their Schools?

How Much Influence Do Teachers Have in Their Schools?

It Depends on Whom You Ask

Published Apr 7, 2020

by William R. Johnston, Goke Akinniranye, Christopher Joseph Doss

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Research Question

  1. What is the difference between teacher and principal perceptions of teacher influence and decisionmaking powers in schools?

A growing body of research suggests that school management models emphasizing teacher influence in school governance have a range of benefits, including increased teacher job satisfaction, improved academic performance, and more-effective organizational learning. However, nationwide data from the American Educator Panels show that principals are significantly more likely to perceive that teachers have influence in their schools than teachers. More principals than teachers feel that teachers are involved in making important school decisions. Almost all principals agree or strongly agree with the statement that teachers have a lot of informal opportunity to influence what happens at their school — a much higher rate than for teachers. In addition, almost a third of teachers feel uncomfortable voicing concerns. These perception gaps between teachers and principals signal a disconnect that may foster professional stagnation and frustration.

Key Findings

Different views of influence from the classroom and the principal's office

  • Ninety-six percent of principals surveyed feel that teachers are involved in making important school decisions, while only 58 percent of teachers do.
  • Almost all principals (98 percent) feel that teachers have a lot of informal opportunity to influence what happens at school — a much higher rate than for teachers (62 percent).
  • Ninety-seven percent of principals thought their teachers were comfortable voicing concerns, but 31 percent of teachers reported that they are not comfortable voicing concerns in their schools.

Recommendations

  • Principals should critically examine the leadership opportunities they believe they are providing for their teachers and to establish systems and structures that foster regular dialogue about important school decisions.
  • Principals should also explore ways to foster a culture of trust among school staff and leadership, so that teachers feel comfortable expressing concerns.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and Labor and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.