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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

How did the states do? If a teacher wants to get the best professional development out there, they should be teaching in classrooms in either Arkansas or Utah. If you aren’t in a classroom in either of those two states, you are doing pretty well if you manage a classroom in Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, or South Carolina. South Carolina and Utah also offer the best environment for new teachers, posting the best scores in induction indicators.



And where does NSDC and SCOPE find teachers struggling to get the PD deemed necessary? Indiana was the only state not to receive a single apple in the 11-apple indicator scale. Single apples (out of 11) went to Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.



While many aren’t going to like to see such a report boiled down to a horserace (the folks at SCOPE actually list the states alphabetically, not in leaders to laggards order), such a comparison is important. Teacher quality was a key component of RttT, and worth a fair number of points in the process. Of the seven states recognized for their good work in PD access, only one, North Carolina, is a RttT winner. Three others (Colorado, Kentucky, and South Carolina) came close.

Poll: Are you looking for a new job for the next school year?

Poll: Are you looking for a new job for the next school year?

But of those NSDC finds lacking, we see four RttT winners (Georgia, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) in the 11 laggards. One would like to believe that some of these perceived deficiencies will be addressed as part of each state’s RttT-funded teacher quality efforts; only time will tell.



What also becomes interesting are the indicators themselves. NSDC’s Professional Development Access Index says that at least 51 percent of new teachers need to report 4 out of 5 induction support.s Only two states — South Carolina and Utah — actually do that. It says at least 67 percent of teachers need to report PD on student discipline and classroom management, but only one state — Arkansas — is doing that. Only three states — Arizona, California, and Oregon — are offering a majority of their teachers PD on ELL students. It begs the question — how, exactly, do we know these indicators are non-negotiable when it comes to teacher PD if almost no states are doing it?



Regardless, NSDC’s Professional Development in the United States report provides some interesting fodder for the ongoing teacher quality debate. It forces us to go on record as to whether PD is important or not, opens the discussion on what good PD truly is, and allows states to see how their fellow states are doing (and what they can do to beat them).



No, we probably won’t see a rush to invest in huge PD programs, particularly in this economy. But if states are serious about improving student achievement and measuring teachers by said achievement scores, we need to look at the inputs that go into instruction. Teacher induction and ongoing professional development are inputs that just can’t be ignored.

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