UEP Professors Matthew A. Kraft and John P. Papay win the 2015 AERA Palmer O. Johnson Award!


Prof. Matthew Kraft


Prof. John Papay

Last week, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) announced the recipients of its Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award. The Award is presented annually to recognize the highest quality of academic scholarship published in one of the AERA peer-reviewed research journals.

The UEP Program is proud to announce that the 2015 recipients are none other than Prof. Matthew A. Kraft and Prof. John P. Papay! Their paper “Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience” was published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in December 2014.  Read the entire paper, or check out the abstract below:

Mounting evidence suggests that the school context in which teaching and learning occurs can have important consequences for teachers’ career decisions, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement. Using a rich dataset from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, we investigate how an individual teacher’s effectiveness (as measured by contributions to student achievement) changes as they gain experience on the job. Specifically, we look at how the professional environment of the school influences the degree to which teachers become more effective over time. We construct our measure of the professional environment from teachers’ responses to state-wide surveys.

We find that there is large variation in the extent to which teachers improve, both across individual teachers and across schools. Teachers who work in more supportive environments improve at much greater rates than their peers in less supportive schools. On average, teachers working in schools at the 75th percentile of professional environment ratings improved 38 percent more than teachers in schools at the 25th percentile after ten years. These findings highlight the role of the organizational context in promoting or constraining teacher development. Transforming schools into organizations that support the learning of both students and teachers will be central to any successful effort to increase the human capital of the U.S. teaching force.

Congratulations Professors Kraft and Papay!