Teach Your Strength

Houston, TX
Houston Independent School District

2013 - 2015

RESEARCH QUESTION

What is the impact of switching elementary schools to a departmentalized model – that is, having each teacher focus on teaching their strongest subject(s) relative to their grade level peers? Ultimately, what is the impact of elementary school departmentalization on student achievement?

ACTION

Although middle and high schools have traditionally allowed teachers to focus in on one subject area, the dominant model of elementary organization continues to be the classroom where each teacher teaches all subjects to one group of students during the day.

In the Teach Your Strength Project, EdLabs partnered with the Houston Independent School District to have elementary teachers focus on one or two of their strongest subjects relative to their grade level team, and therefore delve more deeply into planning and preparing detailed lessons in specific topic areas. Teachers will teach specific subjects to all students within a grade level, and students will rotate between teachers throughout the day in a departmentalized model.

25 elementary schools in Houston were randomized into treatment and switched to a departmentalized model in grades one through five. Teachers will teach their strongest subject(s), based on data wherever possible, relative to their grade level team. We will examine whether this style of elementary school organization has an effect on student achievement.

OUTCOMES

This project is ongoing and analyses will be forthcoming.