At first blush, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Shouldn’t giving teachers more on the job training, called “Professional Development” (PD) in education circles, create better education programs?
Apparently, a new federally sponsored student concludes the answer is: NO, at least for seventh grade mathematics teachers.
The study was conducted by the American Institutes for Research and the MRDC organization.
Education Week says (subscription?):
“The focus of the training was to better prepare teachers to cover rational number topics, such as fractions, decimals, percent, ratio, and proportion, which are seen as an important foundation for learning algebra but also a common stumbling block for students.”
And, the PD program selected was supposed to be based on all the collective research on what works best.
So, the fact that the training failed to improve either teacher knowledge or student performance is especially troubling.
This certainly raises uncomfortable questions:
Clearly, this offers another example to support our long-raised concerns about the quality of research in education (such as in this blog).
It also raises concerns about the ability educators to even know what works.
Ironically, the new study indicates that recent cutting of funding for PD in Kentucky might not have been such a bad idea. If PD isn’t effective, we’d just have been wasting our money.