"Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability - Center for Public Education"

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Professional Development as the Linchpin in Reform
C enter for Public Educ ation
Teaching the Teachers
Teaching
THE TEACHERS
Effective
Professional Development
in an Era of High Stakes
Accountability
Allison Gulamhussein
READ THE REPORT
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C enter f or Public Educ ation
p a g e
3
Professional Development as the Linchpin in Reform
C enter for Public Educ ation
Teaching the Teachers
Teaching
THE TEACHERS
Effective
Professional Development
in an Era of High Stakes
Accountability
Allison Gulamhussein
READ THE REPORT
C enter f or Public Educ ation
3
About The Center for Public Education
Teaching the Teachers
Allison Gulamhussein is a doctoral student at George Washington University and a former
high school English teacher. She was the spring 2013 policy intern for the Center for Public
Education.
The Center for Public Education is a national resource for credible and practical information
about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE provides up-to-
date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve
student achievement and engage public support for public schools. CPE is an initiative of the
National School Boards Association. www.centerforpubliceducation.org
Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit
organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000
local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state
associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school
board leadership. www.nsba.org
©September 2013 The Center for Public Education
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Teaching the Teachers
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PD as the Linchpin
3
4
1
2
Introduction
Main Findings
Building Effective PD
in Reform
Why the Status Quo is Ineffective
TOUCH OR
CLICK TO
The Implementation Problem
NAVIGATE
5 Principles of
The Dual Roles
Discussion and
5
7
8
6
Funding Effective PD
Teachers Play
Conclusion
Effective PD
Principle I
Teacher as Technician
Time, the Largest Cost
Questions to Consider
Principle II
Teacher as Intellectual
Other Costs
Principle III
Principle IV
Principle V
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Introduction
Teaching the Teachers
In the coming years, schools will be hit with a trio of potent reforms: teacher evaluations
that will include student test scores, widespread adoption of higher academic standards,
We often ask
and the development of high stakes standardized tests aligned with these new standards.
questions about
Each of these reforms challenges the status quo, demanding that schools systematically and
how students
continuously improve student performance, marking and measuring their progress each and
every step along the way.
learn, but not
often about how
The new reforms will require significant changes in the classroom. The Common Core State
Standards that have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, represent a
teachers learn.
retreat from the traditional rote, fact-based style of instruction toward teaching that fosters
critical thinking and problem solving. Even non-Common Core states are pursuing a college
and career-ready agenda that calls for the development of these skills among students and
holds schools accountable for doing so. To meet these new standards, teachers will have to
learn new teaching practices.
This is not just about providing professional development but about providing effective
professional development. Availability alone is not an issue. In fact, in a recent study,
researchers found that while 90 percent of teachers reported participating in professional
development, most of those teachers also reported that it was totally useless (Darling-Hammond
et al, 2009). Thus, the real issue isn’t that teachers aren’t provided professional development, but
that the typical offerings are ineffective at changing teachers’ practice or student learning.
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1
Introduction
Teaching the Teachers
In this high-stakes era of higher standards and teacher evaluations based in part on student
Schools
achievement, professional development has to have a laser-light focus on one thing—
student learning. However, at present, most professional development misses the mark.
One-time workshops are the most prevalent model for delivering professional development.
must consider how
Yet, workshops have an abysmal track record for changing teacher practice and student
achievement. (Yoon et al, 2007).
teachers learn
and adopt new
Districts cannot just do more of the same. They have to develop new approaches to teacher
learning on their campuses, approaches that create real changes in teacher practice and
techniques for
improve student achievement. Hence, the real challenge schools face is how to create
instruction and
opportunities for teachers to grow and develop in their practice so that they, in turn, can help
students grow and develop their knowledge and ability to think critically.
tailor the training
accordingly.
This paper aims to provide a research-based answer to how districts can structure
professional development so that teachers change their teaching practices, leading to
students learning more. This paper will address the many facets of developing an effective
professional development program, starting with an assessment of the strengths and
weaknesses of current practice in light of new reform demands. Next, the paper will examine
what research says about the structure of professional development that truly changes
teachers’ work and the learning of students. Lastly, the paper will explore what funding
effective professional development might look like in a district, while providing some surprising
details about the amount districts spend today on professional development.
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