A new report from AIR informs that after 13 years of significant federal investment totalling more than $30 billion, teacher Professional Development (PD) has shown mostly disappointing effects on teacher practice and student achievement. Birman (2009) conducted an analysis of more than 7,000 teachers and found that U.S. teachers have been receiving professional development that is superficial, short-lived, and incoherent.
Only 13 percent of elementary teachers reported receiving more than 24 hours a year of in-depth training teaching reading. Only 6 percent of elementary teachers participated in more than 24 hours of in-depth study of teaching mathematics. Only one in five elementary teachers reported participating in professional development in which they practiced what they learned and received feedback. Only 17 percent of elementary teachers reported participating in professional development that was explicitly based on what they had learned in earlier professional development sessions.
According to a 2014 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation report fewer than three in 10 teachers (29 percent) are highly satisfied with their professional development, and only 34 percent say that PD is getting better. Research suggests educators perform better when they acquire the right knowledge and the right skills and have a chance to practice these new learnings, study the effects, and adjust accordingly.
In 2013–14, for example, the average U.S. teacher received just about $251 worth of Title II–funded professional development and each principal received roughly $856. How should Congress revise this law so that a smarter allocation of the funds occurs? How should educational leaders match the right improvement activities to the right resources to the right educators? Please describe your best teacher professional development experience in the comments section.
The graphic below illustrates the benefits of collaboration. Unfortunately, only 7 percent of teachers report working in schools with effective collaboration models.