An explanatory mixed-methods study of instructional coaching practices and their relationship to student achievement

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Karen Yvonne Sumner (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Meagan Karvonen

Abstract: The purposes of this study were to examine the nature of high school instructional coaching implementation, explore a possible relationship between instructional coaching and student achievement, and identify aspects of a successful instructional coaching program. This study was unique because of the exploration of instructional coaching practices in relation to student achievement. Qualitative research on coaching best practices and even instructional improvement are available, but few studies have delved into the primary goal of high school instructional coaching: improving student learning and achievement. This study used a mixed-methods design. The sampling frame was the 115 North Carolina public school districts. Of these 115 school districts, 39 employed high school instructional coaches at some point between 2005 and 2010. Data for the study included survey results from the 115 NC school districts, NC School Report Card Data, and interviews with the high school instructional coach and curriculum director for the selected district. Implementation of high school instructional coaching varied across the state. Employment status included full-time instructional coaches, part-time administrators, part-time teachers, and part-time employment only. Coaches differed in their work with specific content areas and in the school and district level initiatives they supported. Coaches differed in the professional development they were provided and in the number of times they were expected to meet with principals in the high schools they served. Some of the coaches worked at one high school, while others were supporting as many as eight high schools in their district. The activities coaches directed differed markedly as well, but most coaches were expected to support teachers in lesson planning and delivery. No relationship was found between student achievement and the number of schools a coach served, coaches‘ support of Professional Learning Communities, coach professional development, relationship confidentiality, or typical coaching activities. However, the frequency of principal and coach meetings was related to student achievement. The district demonstrating the most significant growth in student achievement noted almost daily interaction between the coach and principal. This particular coach both performed traditional instructional coaching duties and taught students a minimum of 40 minutes every day. Districts are encouraged to pursue some of the nontraditional coaching activities the interviewed coach noted, particularly her continued work with students as a tutor and classroom teacher. In addition, policy makers may want to consider priority hiring of coaches who have had successful teaching experiences at the school in which they will coach. Further research should be conducted in the state to determine if a relationship exists between instructional coaching in grades K-8 and student achievement. In addition, qualitative research on specific coaching practices should be conducted comparing the high school coaching districts demonstrating growth over time in student achievement and those who saw no gains.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Teachers -- In-service training -- North Carolina
Mentoring in education -- North Carolina
Teacher effectiveness -- North Carolina

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