Study: Blending curriculum, PD can help novice teachers improve
- A curriculum model that is combined with ongoing professional development can help novice teachers support students’ learning just as effectively as more experienced teachers, according to a recent study by Mathematica Policy Research (MPR).
- The research focuses on the EL Education’s Teacher Potential Project (TPP) which includes English language arts lessons aligned to the Common Core as well as professional learning for teachers, such as five institutes throughout the year, on-site coaching and online support. Results from study 72 schools in 18 districts across the country, including 10 districts in large metropolitan areas, were examined for the study.
- TPP novice teachers were more likely than those not in the program to lead their students in close readings of text and to provide lessons that built students’ content knowledge. They were also more likely that non-TPP novice teachers to get students to use higher-order thinking skills, such as making inferences, analyzing, synthesizing information, drawing conclusions and evaluating.
The program, the researchers say, addresses the needs of less-experienced teachers who are challenged by teaching to the standards as well as becoming effective educators. MPR will also continue the study by looking at the effect that TPP has on student achievement. Those findings, expected in the summer of 2019, will help to address the question of whether professional development has an impact on student achievement.
The study also raises the topic of “job-embedded” professional development, a term that is often used, but that school leaders might not always know how to implement. A report issued earlier this year by the Learning Policy Institute provided some definition by saying that professional development should focus on "teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports” and support a teacher’s learning within the context of his or her classroom. “The importance of providing professional learning in conjunction with model curriculum and classroom materials should not be underestimated,” the report says.
A job-embedded approach also allows teachers to design and practice teaching strategies or lessons in the classroom and not just in a workshop or a conference. This also likely calls mentoring, coaching or peer-support programs time so newer teachers have opportunities to discuss and get feedback on what they’ve tried.
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