Unfortunately, the research indicates that the correlation between PD and improvements in teaching may be nothing more than a myth, according to Tom Loveless in Education Next. Loveless offers two studies that challenge the myth:
- In 2013, Instructional Research Group conducted a meta-analysis inquiring into PD in K-12 math, evaluating 910 PD studies. Only 32 studies (3.51%) had a design for assessing effectiveness. Of those 32, only 5 (or .0055%) met the What Works Clearinghouse standards. Of those 5, 2 demonstrated no effects, 1 demonstrated limited effects, and 2 demonstrated showed positive results.
- The Institute for Education Sciences evaluated PD programs for both early reading and middle school math. While teacher knowledge and instructional practices did change after the development programs, the effects lasted only 1 year and disappeared after that. One expensive PD strategy called "peer coaching" resulted in no statistically significant effects for students or for teachers.
Literature reviews of other PD studies indicate similar findings, suggesting that any scientific basis for PD programs like these is weak. Teachers who improve, it appears, generally do so based on their own common sense, personal experience, or word of mouth.
So, knowing that good teachers are self-reliant when it comes to their professional development and with no rigorously tested PD programs, why do so-called "educational reformers" call for PD and why is government so willing to spend $2.3B of taxpayers' dollars on PD?
The answer is obvious, insofar as The Motley Monk is concerned.
Superintendents and principals can claim to be on the vanguard of reforming their schools and improving teaching, all of which "adds value" to the students. Meanwhile, the charlatans who are being paid to sponsor these programs make a ton of money doing so. As long as the taxpayers don't know, who cares? Everybody's happy even if the money being spent is going down the sinkhole of no results.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Tom Loveless' article in Education Next, click on the following link:
"What Do We Know About Professional Development?"