February 2017

This series of publications and supplementary materials, based on a mixed-methods study, examines how teachers can gain a sense of ownership of school and system-level improvement efforts. In the current climate of education reform, where one innovation is often quickly replaced with another, this concept of teacher ownership is critical. Those responsible for change must have a voice in creating and directing that change: teachers cannot be viewed as simply the implementers.

Our study examined how some high schools in California, implementing various improvement approaches (Linked Learning, community schools, and Promise Neighborhoods), have engaged teachers in transforming teaching and learning. Our findings suggest that teacher ownership exists where:

  • Teachers are able to co-construct knowledge and influence and lead school improvement efforts.
  • Supports and practices are in place that allow teachers to break down barriers and work collectively to build system coherence.
  • A school's culture values teachers' collective expertise and knowledge and recognizes that schools are social and cultural, as well as academic, institutions.

The study was part of the Time for Equity project, funded by the Ford Foundation and carried out by AISR from 2012-2016, with the goal of building the capacity of schools, districts, communities, and partner organizations to improve educational opportunities in the nation’s most underserved school systems through expanded and reimagined learning time.


AISR Blog post: Teacher Ownership and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 3/31/17
Principal Associate Marisa Saunders writes that ESSA provides an opportunity for districts to include teacher ownership in measures of school success.

GTTO Resources

The links below contain a wealth of information and recommendations about teacher ownership and how it contributes to positive outcomes for students, teachers, and the community.

1383 Download the full report
Complete research report, including an overview of the Los Angeles context and previous research, descriptions of methods and case study schools, findings, and recommendations for policy and practice 

1384 Download the executive summary
Condensed version of the research report, including highlights of
 findings and recommendations 

1384 Download the handout
One-page handout on supporting and maintaining teacher ownership.

1386 Read about the history of reform in Los Angeles
Expanded version of the description in the full report

1387 View graphics
Selected visuals from the full report, including a representation of the teacher ownership cycle of continuous improvement and graphs and tables with data analysis

1388 Read about the methods
Detailed description of research methods, including sample questions from the survey instrument used

1389 Download a sample instrument
A sample similar to the survey instument used that can serve as a model for other sites wishing to do a similar survey  

1388 Read about the case study schools
Expanded version of the description in the full report

1387 View details of findings
Expanded table of survey data on teacher priorities and a matrix of correlations around teacher outcomes.

1390 Digital stories
The voices of teachers sharing personal stories of success, challenges, knowledge, leadership, and ownership


Marisa Saunders AISR Principal Associate marisa_saunders@brown.edu