New Release of Professional Development Policy Research

A team of researchers from Stanford and the National Staff Development Council released their Phase III report of their multi-year research project into the policies and practices that make for effective educational professional development.

All three reports are available at Learning Forward’s Web site (click HERE), along with a description of the project’s aims, scope and findings.

The reports are described like this:

Phase I: In 2009, NSDC released Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. This report examines what research has revealed about professional learning that improves teachers’ practice and student learning. The report describes the availability of such opportunities in the United States and high-achieving nations around the world, which have been making substantial and sustained investments in professional learning for teachers over the last two decades. Funding for the multiyear research effort comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MetLife Foundation, NSDC, and The Wallace Foundation.

Phase II: The report from Phase II of this multiyear research initiative examines the status of professional learning in the United States. The findings indicate that the nation is making some progress in providing increased support and mentoring for new teachers. However, the study also reveals that teachers’ opportunities for the kind of ongoing, intensive professional learning that research shows has a substantial impact on student learning are decreasing.

Researchers examined 2008 data from the federal government’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and other sources. The report also includes assessments of each state on the quality of their professional development across 11 indicators that comprise a newly developed Professional Development Access Index.

Phase III: Policy shapes practices, and the increasingly important realm of professional development is no exception. To identify effective professional development policies and strategies, the Stanford University research team examined the policy frameworks supporting high levels of professional development activity in four states in Phase III of the multiyear research study.

The states—Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, and Vermont—were identified as “professionally active” based on evidence of high levels of teacher participation in professional development in the 2008 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, and the teacher surveys associated with the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); a reputation in the literature for enacting reforms that are consistent with the research based on “effective” professional development; and improvements in student achievement as measured in the 2009 NAEP.

Your local Faculty Council has been contacted by a couple of members of the Staff and Professional Development Task Force (they want to get some information from HW faculty), and we’re working out the details of what will happen and how. In the meantime, it might be valuable to take a gander at these reports (at least the first one, which gives an overview of research on PD) to fertilize your own thinking on the subject.

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