Policy Environments & the Quality of Teaching

Principal Investigators

Michael Knapp, University of Washington
Milbrey McLaughlin. Stanford University
Joan Talbert, Stanford University
Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University
Jon Snyder, Bank Street College of Education


Focusing on four states (California, New York, North Carolina, and Washington State) and a large urban school district within each, this study examined connections between policy environments and teaching practice through folly nested state, district, school, and teacher samples. Analytic work integrated what was learned from each level within and across states into a combined set of insights about the way teachers' work and the way student learning opportunities reflect and are shaped by various policy environments and contexts in which they work.

Main Research Questions

  • In what ways are policies from governmental and non-governmental sources orchestrated or managed to promote high quality teaching and greater student learning? How is the coordination among strands achieved?
  • How did the policies and policy strategies (if any) come into being? What forces, conditions, and actions sustain them, and what will it take to keep them in place over time?
  • How do teaching policies interact with policies not targeted specifically to teachers or teaching and with the key features or conditions of state and local context to form a policy environment within which teachers work?
  • In what ways, if at all, do teaching policy strategies affect: (a) recruitment and retention of capable people in the teaching profession; (b) improvement in teachers' knowledge, skills, and norms; (c) productive workplace environments for teaching; (d) teaching on a broad scale; and (e) student learning? What trade-offs or relationships are there between progress made in one challenge area and progress made in another?
  • How are resources aimed at teacher improvement conceived, (re)allocated, or "invested" throughout the system? And, with what consequences for teachers' work and student learning?


Case study research, survey research, document analysis


Research Completed

Publications to Date

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