The Research Supporting Student-Centered Coaching

The Impact of Student-Centered Coaching
The Impact of Student-Centered Coaching

Student-Centered Coaching was developed by instructional coaches and for instructional coaches. It was the result of coaches asking themselves the question, “How can we make our coaching more about student learning?” Until then, it felt like coaching only focused on instruction and wasn’t necessarily ensuring that learning was taking place. Coaches felt like, while they may be working very hard, they weren’t sure how their efforts were impacting the achievement of students.

Beginning as a practioner-driven model has its advantages. The most profound is that the practices for Student-Centered Coaching fit within the complex environment we find in our schools. As many coaches describe it, “The practices feel right. They are so practical and teachers aren’t at all intimidated.”

While we are thrilled to receive kudos of this nature, we feel that it is our job to be certain that the practices are also research-based. Therefore, we recently set off to engage in a third-party impact study to determine how Student-Centered Coaching impacts teaching and learning in the K-12 schools where it is being implemented.

The Impact Study
The study was conducted by KickUp, an independent K-12 evaluation firm. They collected data from 87 coaches working with teachers from various content areas in years 2 and 3 of implementation of Student-Centered Coaching.

Throughout the study, coaches used the Results-Based Coaching Tool to submit pre and post assessment data from their coaching cycles. In this way, we were able to determine teacher and student growth. We also asked the coaches and teachers to reflect qualitatively on how the coaching influenced their day-to-day practice.

At the end of the study, we were excited to find that across 4-6 week coaching cycles, students grew an average of 68% proficiency. This growth was measured using a success criteria that aligned with the standards. We also found that teachers increased their effectiveness. For example, teachers felt they were better able to:

  • 76% were better able to use formative assessments to plan instruction
  • 66% were better able to differentiate instruction
  • 65% were better able to model for students
  • 55% were better able to deliver focused lessons
  • 52% were better able to confer with students
  • 35% were better able to help students self-assess

While not every student was there yet, teachers reported that they had a clear path regarding how they would move student learning (and their teaching) forward. This is what coaching is all about.

Alignment with Hattie Research
Since Student-Centered Coaching is an evidence-based model, it aligns with some of the most exciting research in education, the research associated with Visible Learning and the work of John Hattie. A meta-analysis of over 1,500 educational studies, this research base provides evidence of what schools can do to increase student achievement. The following crosswalk between Student-Centered Coaching and Visible Learning provides a look at how the practices overlap.

Student-Centered Coaching PracticesVisible LearningEffect Size
Using formative assessments to plan instruction– Providing Formative Evaluation
– Evaluation and Reflection
Differentiating instruction– Interventions for students with learning needs0.77
Modeling for students– Mastery learning
– Planning and Prediction
Delivering focused lessons– Clear Goal Intentions
– Direct Instruction
– Teacher Clarity
– Student Use of the Success Criteria
Conferring with students– Teacher-Student Relationships
– Feedback
Student self-assessment– Assessment Capable Learners1.33
Structures for student discourse– Classroom Discussion
– Questioning
– Peer Tutoring
Co-teaching and co-planning– Instructional Quality1.00

Documenting Our Impact
While it’s rewarding to understand the research that supports Student-Centered Coaching, we believe that it’s even more important for coaches to document the impact of their own coaching cycles. If we don’t look closely at how our coaching is impacting student and teacher learning than we are remiss in ensuring that our work is making the desired impact. The tools we provide through Student-Centered Coaching position coaches to do just that, make an impact that is understood by all.

© Diane Sweeney Consulting, all rights reserved.

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