The federal government gives local districts more than a billion dollars a year for the professional development of teachers. But there’s little accountability for how the money is spent and whether it’s improving teaching and learning. The Hechinger Report is investigating how professional-development funds are spent in the country’s largest school system—New York City—as well as in other districts around the nation to see what we can learn from schools, districts and countries that excel at ongoing teacher training.



File photo. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Teacher-school match: Education needs long relationships, not ‘one-night stands’

By Andre Perry

Teacher preparation programs should see themselves as matchmakers. We match professionals with schools and students who’ll hopefully consider their arranged partnership happy, healthy and productive. Communities benefit when new teachers share their fates with their surroundings. Matriculation and graduation are the few separation rates teacher prep programs should celebrate; in the very least, the public […]

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Controversial report paints grim picture of teacher education

By Alexandria Neason

Amid a national debate about tenure laws that can keep ineffective teachers in the classroom, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), an advocacy group, has turned the spotlight on teacher education programs and the results paint a grim picture. The second edition of the “Teacher Prep Report,” released earlier this week, looked at nearly […]

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Conflicting ideas about how to rate teacher prep programs

By Aisha Asif

After winning a hard-fought battle against the teachers union to impose a new teacher evaluation system, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has turned to evaluating the training programs that produce the city’s teachers. The New York City Department of Education recently released what it dubs as “the nation’s first ever district level Teacher Preparation […]

Tiferes Bnos teachers write down suggestions for future workshops, to be led by their colleagues. (Photo by Sarah Garland)

Constant teacher training keeps poor Jewish school performing

By Sarah Garland

Tiferes Bnos is an all-girls school located on the first floor of an apartment building near the border of the Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant sections of Brooklyn. It would be unsurprising if the school had a poor academic track record. None of the teachers went to college. All the students speak Yiddish as their first language. […]

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Can the burgeoning world of online teacher training improve public education?

By Sarah Butrymowicz

Online teacher training involves much of the workload that traditional in-the-class instruction does: textbook lessons, classroom observations, student teaching. But the challenges of training successful teachers online were made clear to me during a recent online chat, when the professor in my “Foundations of Education” course slapped on heavy-duty headphones, peered into her computer screen and […]

Olivia Atanasovska, a consultant for AUSSIE, gives tips to teachers at P.S. 279 in the Bronx on how to design a curriculum. (Photo by Sarah Garland)

How an Australian company won the top spot in teacher training in New York City

By Sarah Garland

A decade ago, Australia nearly topped the charts when it came to teaching children to read, though it lagged behind countries like Canada and Finland. These days, Australia has fallen further in the international ranks. But in New York City, many schools still look to Australians for the secret to academic success—and pay them millions […]

Q&A with Sana Nasser: How a principal helps teachers improve

By Sarah Garland

Accountability is ratcheting up for schools and teachers, as new teacher-evaluation systems go into effect in more states. But although advocates of the changes say their aim is to help struggling teachers get better, there’s been little attention to which kinds of on-the-job training for teachers work and which don’t. As part of an ongoing […]

Matthew Thaxter, of the Long Island-based company TEQ, gives a smart board lesson to teachers at P.S. 176 in Brooklyn.

Millions spent on improving teachers, but little done to make sure it’s working

By Beth Fertig and Sarah Garland

Helping struggling teachers improve has become a big concern–and a big business–across the country, especially as more states, including New York, introduce more rigorous teacher evaluations. The federal government gives local districts more than $1 billion annually for training programs. New York City schools spent close to $100 million last year just on private consultants. […]

Key reports

A Status Report on Teacher Development in the U.S. and Abroad

What do they do in other countries? A 2009 report by Learning Forward looks at features of professional development in high-achieving countries.

Findings from the 2011-2012 Survey on the Use of Funds Under Title II, Part A (March 2012)

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education surveys districts about how they use their federal professional development dollars.

Increasing Achievement by Focusing Grade-Level Teams on Improving Classroom Learning

This study focused on whether learning teams—in which teachers from the same grade level spend time together planning lessons, looking at student test scores, and helping each other with ideas and strategies—improve student achievement.

Inside the Black Box of School District Spending on Professional Development

Before policy makers and districts can encourage more effective forms of professional development, they must begin with a map of current activities and investments.

Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study

In a study sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, intensive professional development programs for seventh-grade math teachers were implemented as intended, but the programs had no impact on teacher knowledge or student achievement.

Reviewing the Evidence on How Teacher Professional Development Affects Student Achievement

In 2007, a meta-analysis examined 1,300 studies of the effects of professional development on student achievement and found that only nine met high evidence standards.

The Impact of Two Professional Development Interventions on Early Reading Instruction and Achievement

Teachers learned more about reading instruction, but this didn’t translate into better scores for their students during the first year or the second year after the PD.