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Report Reveals Professional Development for Teachers Not Good Enough

Report Reveals Professional Development for Teachers Not Good Enough

"If a teacher wants to get the best professional development out there, they should be teaching in classrooms in either Arkansas or Utah."

Patrick R. Riccards

For much of this year, the education community has gone back and forth on teacher quality and how we evaluate effective teaching. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times (with an assist from Hechinger Report) pushed the topic further than most, offering a comprehensive Grading the Teachers effort that tracked individual teachers to their students’ test scores.

Without doubt, we will continue to look at such outcomes to see whether teachers are up to the job or not. Cities across the nation, led by municipalities like Denver, Houston, and DC, have strong teacher evaluation and incentive plans in place. And the 12 states (yes, I’ll count DC in the state pool) that finished as Race to the Top winners all needed to focus on teacher quality issues (to varying degrees).

Such emphasis on outcomes is imperative. At the end of the day, we know our schools are improving when test scores go up. Other measures, particularly the qualifiable, are relatively meaningless to the average parent or the average policymaker if student performance does not improve. Scores go up, we’re doing the job. Scores remain stagnant, we’re advocating the status quo. And let’s not even think about scores going down. Data is king. He with the highest test scores — be you student, teacher, or school — rules the kingdom.

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But every once in a while, we need to think about the inputs that get us to those outcomes. The logic goes that if we are measuring teachers based on the achievement scores posted by the kids in their class, we need to also look at the tools that educators have to effectively teach in those classrooms. What supports are teachers getting, particularly new teachers? What does an induction program look like? What sort of ongoing PD is offered? What intellectual weapons are we arming our classroom teachers with?

Today, the National Staff Development Council released a new report, Professional Development in the United States: Trends and Challenges, that provides a snapshot of the investment we are making into teaching the teachers how to be better teachers. Conducted by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) at Stanford University (a center that Eduflack has been fortunate to work with since its founding), the NSDC study offers a state-by-state report card of 11 indicators important to professional development access. Such indicators include whether at least 80 percent of new teachers participate in induction, at least 80 percent of teachers report PD on content, at least 51 percent of teachers are getting 17 or more hours of content, and at least 67 percent of teachers reported PD on reading instruction.

Next page: How each state scored for professional development

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