Much of Professional Development's Impact on Student Achievement 'Unknown'

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The amount of professional development teachers receive affects their students' achievement, but the specifics of that relationship are still sketchy, according to findings from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest.

REL examined more than 1,300 studies to uncover key findings on the relationship between teach professional development and student performance:

  • Just nine of 1,300 studies that REL examined in the key areas of math, science, reading and English/language arts met the evidence standards from the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse.
  • In those nine studies, teachers who receive an average of 49 hours of professional development (considered a substantial amount) were found to be able to boost student achievement up to 21 percent.
  • More than 14 hours of professional development had a significant impact on student achievement.

Better understanding the relationship between professional development and student achievement would help schools "target scarce resources in the right direction," according to Phyllis Hudecki, Ph.D., executive director of the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition.

"Although professional development has long been considered a key component in improving instruction, we really know very little about the actual relationship between professional development and improving student achievement," she said, in a prepared statement.

REL Southwest is one of 10 educational laboratories established by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. REL Southwest serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, which comprise more than 6.5 million students, more than 400,000 teachers, and approximately 14,000 schools in grades pre-kindergarten through college.

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About the author: David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and marketing consultant. He can be reached at david@dkcopy.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and marketing consultant, and can be reached at david@dkcopy.com.

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