The Center for American Progress steps into the teacher professional development ring this month with a bold report blasting current PD models for being "short-term, episodic, and disconnected... [and] unlikely to positively influence teaching and improve student achievement."
However, the report goes on to shine a light on a select few studies that offer promise. Out of 1,300 studies on PD, finds the authors, only nine have shown clear evidence of impacting student achievement. Of those nine programs, five common best practices emerge: PD connects with state, district or school goals; it is focused on core content or teaching strategies; active learning opportunities are involved; collaboration is abundant; and a loop of continuous feedback and follow up is put into practice.
The report also flags the importance of PD as a regularly occurring activity, rather than a one-time compliance requirement. Examples include embedding training into the work day and focusing on collaboration and coaching. MyTeachingPartner and EdWeb get a shoutout in the report as useful tools, along with districts like Long Beach Unified that have designed their own PD programs rather than rely on those from ineffective vendors.
The acknowledged Common Core as an opportunity to set clearer standards and expectations and more easily share resources. It also noted that creating impactful systems hinge on defining exactly what great teaching looks like. While it went unmentioned, one example of efforts towards this is the MET research.
This report is the first in a series that will focus on what states and districts are doing well, and the policies that support effective professional development.