Professional Development for Teachers a Waste of Time and Money

Teacher Professional Development a Waste of Time and Money

Teacher Professional Development is a waste of time and money, so says the recently released report Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Middle School Math Students.

The report studying the effects of professional development on teacher and student content knowledge was reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse, a division of the US Department of Education.  The study and research met the WWC evidenciary standards, something few studies on education achieve.

“The study examined whether 7th-graders’ knowledge of rational numbers improved when the students’ math teachers participated in related professional development activities.” The studies authors randomly selected 80 schools from 12 different districts and provided additional professional development on the teaching of rational numbers to teachers in a random selection of half of the schools in each district.  All teachers in all schools, including those offered more extensive professional development, continued to participate in existing professional development programs.  Approximately 200 teachers and 4,500 students participated in the study.

The PD programs were administered by either America’s Choice or Pearson Achievement Solutions {Note:  Pearson Achievement Solutions has recently acquired America’s Choice}.  The program provided eight 6-hour sessions of instruction on pedagogy, content knowledge, and resource materials.  There of the sessions were provided during a summer institute and five during school-year seminars.  In addition, teachers participating in the PD sessions were provided 20 hours of classroom coaching the assist them in applying the strategies they’d learned.

What results were noted? No improvement in student or teacher knowledge.

The study found that students in schools where teachers were offered extensive professional development by the study performed no better on a test of math achievement in rational numbers than students in comparison schools at the end of the 2007–08 academic year.

Further, the study found the professional development had no impact on teacher knowledge of rational number topics and on how to teach them.

However, the study found a significant positive impact of the professional development on one of the three measures of teacher instructional practices examined. Teachers who were offered the study’s extensive professional development engaged in 1.03 more activities per hour that elicited student thinking than teachers not offered the study’s professional development.

Forty-eight hours of professional development and 20 hours of in room coaching with no improvement noted.

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2 Responses to “Professional Development for Teachers a Waste of Time and Money”

  1. Do more with less. | Reno Teacher Says:

    […] year because they will need to spend valuable time to become comfortable with it.  We all have to go to training and toy around with it.  Some of our staff will be unable to wrap their minds around it.  Some will doubtlessly have […]

  2. Jackie Says:

    I’m curious ~ What did school districts do “back in the day?” Was there more mentoring in the classroom/schools vs. costly, heavily-staffed PD in a centralized office force-feeding instructional fads down teachers’ throats regardless of buy-in?

    We’ve reminded our School Board members over and over again that we’re not getting much bang for the buck here. They know it but won’t hold central staff accountable. Pathetic.


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