Saturday, August 29, 2015

Current Professional Development --------------- an expensive voyage to Fantasy Island

Teaching Teachers: Big Costs, Little Payoff

We're wasting billions on professional development. What can be done about a culture of low expectations for professional development?

A study, entitled "The Mirage," was based on surveys of 10,000 teachers and 500 school leaders, along with interviews with more than 100 staff involved in teacher development. The surveys and interviews were conducted in three large school districts and a mid-sized charter school network.
PD costs were found to average $18,000 per student per year.  Based on findings, it is estimated that the 50 largest U.S. school districts alone spend about $8 billion annually on teacher development, far more than was previously thought.

"The Mirage," :Confronting the Hard Truth about Our Quest for Teacher Development
Click "The Mirage" above for a 68 page .pdf download of that report.

"The Mirage" study describes the widely held perception among education leaders that we already know how to help teachers improve, and that we could achieve our goal of great teaching in far more classrooms if we just applied what we know more widely. Our research suggests that despite enormous and admirable investments of time and money, we are much further from that goal than has been acknowledged, and the evidence base for what actually helps teachers improve is very thin.

Great teaching is very real, as are teachers who improve over time, sometimes dramatically so. Undoubtedly, there are development experiences that support that improvement. But we found no clear patterns in these success stories and no evidence that they were the result of deliberate, systemic efforts. Teacher development appears to be a highly individualized process, one that has been dramatically oversimplified. The absence of common threads challenges us to confront the true nature of the problem—that as much as we wish we knew how to help all teachers improve, we do not.

The executive summary recommends  that school systems:

1 ..  REDEFINE what it means to help teachers improve  and    Define “development” clearly, as observable, measurable progress toward an ambitious standard for teaching and student learning. 

2 .. REINVENT how we support effective teaching at scale

3 .. REEVALUATE existing professional learning supports and programs 


New Zealand currently requires PD programs to produce academic gains in students by measuring the effect sizes produced by PD. It is all about improving student learning.
So let us examine Seattle School District and Elementary Mathematics over about a 10 year period.
#1 The District's position is that for purposes of providing high quality uniform Professional Development only one series of math textbook should be used at any school level.
a.) In 2007 the District adopted Everyday Math for K-5 demanding fidelity of implementation and 75 minutes per day of math class.  With this adoption Carla Santorno, the chief academic officer, told the School Board that this math adoption with PD, would eliminate the math achievement gap for students of color  within 5 years.

The All SPS Students minus Black SPS Students test score differences on the State's annual 4th grade math testing =>

The Black / African American Opportunity Gap at grade 4 in math

26.11% - spring 2007
26.00% - spring 2008 <= first year
23.30% - spring 2009
25.41% - spring 2010
27.51% - spring 2011
23.10% - spring 2012 <= fifth year
21.80% - spring 2013
22.41% - spring 2014
20.80% - spring 2015 <= first year of Math in Focus adoption
Given the large increase in instructional time, it is extremely hard to believe that the new fidelity of implementation to the new K-5 Everyday Math textbook series and associated professional development accompanying the adoption were of any value.

There was NO ... observable, measurable progress toward an ambitious standard for teaching and student learning due to this fall 2007 adoption of EDM materials and accompanying professional development. 

It is way past time to REEVALUATE existing professional learning supports and programs.

It would also be a good idea to use relevant data in the selection of textbooks and materials.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data"
  -- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

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