Changing Knowledge and Beliefs

Teacher content knowledge and beliefs shape the opportunities they create for students. When students regularly experience grade appropriate assignments that challenge them to think at high levels, tremendous progress is possible.

We administer an assessment developed by RAND and Student Achievement Partners once per year to all teachers in partner schools to understand how teachers’ knowledge is changing as a result of curriculum-specific professional learning. We also administer a short assessment to understand how mindsets and biases are shifting using a tool developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Content Knowledge

Instructional leaders supported by Leading Educators begin with content knowledge lower than or comparable to national benchmarks, but far surpass them after engaging in one year of learning.

  • At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, less than 20% of teacher leaders reported a texts-first literacy approach. By the end of the year, that number increased by more than 50 percentage points.

  • 92% of teacher leaders increased their average score across all items included in the knowledge assessment, with an average increase of 14.7 points in ELA and 11.5 points in math.

Unlearning Common Beliefs

Implicit bias and teacher expectations contribute to the opportunity gap for students of color, especially for non-black teachers of black students.

A recent TNTP study found in classrooms where teachers hold high expectations, regardless of race or ethnicity, students show growth equivalent to nearly 5 months of additional instruction. When teachers’ agreement with problematic common beliefs decreases, student access to opportunity and instruction with high expectations increases.

  • After one year, teacher leaders’ agreement with inequitable beliefs decreased for 11 of the 13 common beliefs assessed.

  • 82% of schools’ average level of agreement with problematic beliefs decreased, suggesting teacher leaders are increasing access and expectations for all students.