Report: Does Anyone Know How to Help Teachers Improve?

DO WE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT? After all, districts spend on average $18,000 per teacher every year, and the 50 largest districts collectively spend $8 billion, according to a new report from TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project)

The findings from its survey of over 10,000 teachers and 500 school leaders don't offer conclusive answers. Some results are flat out deflating: “school systems are not helping teachers understand how to improve—or even that they have room to improve at all.” Of the districts studied in the report, only three out of 10 teachers improved their performance, while two actually regress.

Even in cases where teachers got better, the report admits there is “no clear pattern to real improvement,” adding that “every development strategy, no matter how intensive, seems to be the equivalent of a coin flip: Some teachers will get better and about the same number won’t.”

The report offers one major recommendation: redefining what it means to help teachers “improve,” beyond simply offering more workshops, coaching and spending more dollars. School leaders and teachers must agree on a common vision of what meaningful progress looks like.

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