- According to a new report from nonprofit TNTP (formerly called The New Teacher Project), districts spend an average of $18,000 per teacher per year for professional development, but few teachers saw year-to-year improvements in their instruction.
- The research is based on PD practices and teacher evaluation scores from three large districts and a charter network, examining more than 10,000 teachers in total.
- Around 30% of teachers the report studied saw improvements in their evaluation ranking; while 20% actually saw declines.
Calls for more teacher training are ubiquitous and the report’s authors urge more, not less, spending on professional development.
“The hard truth is that the help most schools give their teachers isn’t helping all that much,” said TNTP CEO Dan Weisberg. “There’s enormous untapped potential within our nation’s teachers, but our findings suggest that we’re nowhere close to unleashing it.”
The report’s authors did not find any difference in effectiveness between training models; the only statistically significant areas that seemed to prime a teacher to improve were a willingness to accept feedback and frequent observations by a supervisor. More teachers are receiving frequent observations, as more stringent teacher evaluations tied to NCLB waivers go into effect in many states. Still, the gains TNTP found were modest.
Teacher training has come under fire for failing to adequately prepare teachers for the classroom; professional development has received less focus. But many teachers have criticized the support they receive as too broad to be helpful and insufficiently collaborative. It’s possible that new models of training, from Edcamps to collaborative course design, will lead to different results. But it’s likely worth monitoring whether trainings are getting the results they’re intended to.