The impact of coaching on teacher practice and student achievement

By Elizabeth Foster
August 2018
Vol. 39 No. 4
Educators who have experienced coaching — either as the coach or the coached — often speak to its positive impact on their development and growth and frequently to positive impacts on student learning. Coaching is a key job-embedded professional learning strategy that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice, addresses immediate problems of practice, and targets instructional practices with the intent of improving student learning (Croft, Coggshall, Dolan, Powers, & Killion, 2010). Coaching is a core element of Learning Forward’s comprehensive professional learning work with districts and schools. We therefore have a special interest in research findings about its impact. A recent meta-analysis of the empirical literature about teacher coaching strategies and programs offers a clear, thoughtful analysis that details the impact of coaching on teacher

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Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster ( is associate director of standards, research, and strategy at Learning Forward. In each issue of The Learning Professional, Foster explores a recent research study to help practitioners understand the impact of particular professional learning practices on student outcomes.


Do you have thoughts about this study or have recommendations of other research you’d like to see us cover? Email me at

What Is Coaching?

Kraft et al. characterize coaching as the process “where instructional experts work with teachers to discuss classroom practice in a way that is (a) individualized — coaching sessions are one-on-one; (b) intensive — coaches and teachers interact at least every couple of weeks; (c) sustained — teachers receive coaching over an extended period of time; (d) context- specific — teachers are coached on their practices within the context of their own classroom; and (e) focused — coaches work with teachers to engage in deliberate practice of specific skills.”


Croft, A., Coggshall, J.G., Dolan, M., Powers, E., & Killion, J. (2010, April). Job-embedded professional development: What it is, who is responsible, and how to get it done well (Issue Brief). Washington, DC: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality.

Learning Forward. (2011). Standards for Professional Learning. Oxford, OH: Author.

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Vice President, Standards & Research | + posts

Elizabeth Foster is the vice president of research and standards at Learning Forward. She leads the organization’s research efforts for partnerships, programs, and fundraising. Elizabeth co-wrote the Standards for Professional Learning (2022) with Tracy Crow and now facilitates learning sessions about the standards and develops resources that support their use and implementation.

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