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National Staff Development Council Teachers & Leaders Congressional Roundtable March 15, 2010 Common Questions About Effective Professional Development. Stephanie Hirsh Executive Director National Staff Development Council Official Follow Up To Written Testimony.

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National Staff Development Council

Teachers & Leaders Congressional Roundtable March 15, 2010Common Questions About Effective Professional Development

Stephanie Hirsh

Executive Director

National Staff Development Council

Official Follow Up To Written Testimony


National Staff Development Council

NSDC Purpose

  • Every educator engages in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves.
answers to unasked questions
Answers to Unasked Questions

Though the hearing was an excellent opportunity to present and discuss relevant information from the field, there are several questions the committee did not have time to ask.

The following are responses to important questions about professional development that did not arise at the hearing.

why should esea include an approach similar to nsdc s proposed definition
Why should ESEA include an approach similar to NSDC’s proposed definition?
  • To ensure teachers keep improving their performance.

There is compelling evidence that teacher performance plateaus at four years – according to Urban Institute researcher Jane Hannaway: “Teachers work in isolation. They learn what they learn and then they plateau. They get no valid input.”

2. To ensure good practices spread from classroom to classroom.

There was a 2.6 times greater variation across classrooms in the same schools than school to school (OECD, 2008 – PISA Science) .

3. Principals and teachers support collaboration.

Approximately, two thirds of teachers (67%) and three quarters of principals (78%) say that greater collaboration among teachers and school leaders would have a major impact on improving student achievement (MetLife American Teacher Survey, 2009).


4. To promote application of the most important practices tied to student achievement.

  • Shared responsibility for student achievement
  • Instructional leadership by principals
  • Learning communities at school and grade/subject level
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Opportunities for teacher leadership
  • Induction and mentoring of new teachers
  • Collaborative work and deprivatization of practice
  • Classroom based and job-embedded support
  • External expertise support as needed

As documented in research conducted and/or summarized by: McREL; Stanford; Ed Trust; AIR; Rand; University of Minnesota; University of Washington, etc.

is there research to support the proposed definition for professional development yes
Is there research to support the proposed definition for professional development? Yes!
  • Students benefit when teachers learn from peers. “The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers” (Jackson, C.K. & Bruegmann, E., 2009) reports that when the quality of a teacher’s colleagues improve, the students of that teacher benefit.
  • In a five-year UCLA study of Title I schools, serving more than 14,000 students, the team documented the significant contribution of teacher learning teams as part of the school improvement model evaluated.
    • Achievement rose by 41 percent overall, and by 54 percent for Hispanic students

Research Findings Continued …

  • McKinsey & Co. (2008) studied 25 of the world's school systems, including 10 of the top performers. Among the top three things that matter most is ensuring that the system is available to deliver the best possible instruction for every child. This is accomplished by:

- building practical skills during initial training

- placing coaches in schools to support teachers and guide collaboration

- selecting and developing effective principals

- enabling teachers to learn from each other.

  • L.D. Hammond and the School Redesign Network at Stanford University (2008) conducted comprehensive study of state of professional learning.
    • The five-year study of 1,500 schools undergoing major reforms found that where teachers formed active professional learning communities, student absenteeism and dropout rates were reduced and achievement increased significantly in math, science, history, and reading.

Why is it important to tightly define professional development in federal law?

  • To allow for the monitoring of the quality professional development.
  • To provide guidance to states and districts on how to organize effective professional development.
  • Educators will benefit from a framework that guides the improvement process. Capacity building for system and school leaders may be necessary to ensure they have skills to guide the process.
  • Schools will have flexibility as they examine their own data, consider their own circumstances, weigh their options for action, study best practices and research, and determine the steps they will take to improve.
  • PD offers the right balance of structure and flexibility.
what does this pd definition have to do with retaining great teachers
What does this PD definition have to do with retaining great teachers?

MetLife Study of The American Teacher (2009) :

  • Teachers in schools with higher levels of collaborative activities are more likely than others to have high levels of career satisfaction (68% vs. 54% very satisfied)


  • More than 4 in 10 teachers — regardless of the length of time they have been teaching — say it is “absolutely essential” to provide opportunities for relevant professional development in order to retain good teachers. And 8 in 10 say it is very important.

How much will this cost?

It varies by situation, but the primary cost is time.

  • In some districts there would be a cost to prepare the leaders who will facilitate this new approach to professional learning.
  • In some districts there will be costs to support new staffing models that ensure teachers have time during the work day for team learning.
  • And in many districts current resources can be reallocated to support this approach to professional learning as opposed to the more common and often more expensive “adult pull out model.”
  • Most of the cost is in the time – and many systems already know how they can reallocate time to conform with the definition.
What is the difference between intensive support tied to teacher evaluation and professional development for all teachers?
  • PD as part of the teacher evaluation cycle is driven by individual needs of teachers typically defined by teaching performance standards.
  • PD as part of a learning community/school improvement process is driven by needs of students as determined by the data on their performance.
  • PD in the evaluation process is typically viewed as remediation; PD in the learning community process is growth promoting.
Is it possible to evaluate the impact of professional development on student achievement and professional practice?
  • Yes! Several states already evaluate the impact of professional development.
    • Examples of States with professional development evaluation systems include Florida, Iowa, and Maryland.
    • Florida Protocol System requires an onsite review of PD systems every three years. Research documented high degrees of fidelity to state PD standards produces improved student learning (See NSDC’s
    • Standards Assessment Inventory measures the quality of school-based PD as defined by PD standards used in 40 states. Research has documented strong correlation between high SAI scores and high student achievement. (SEDL, 2009). Instrument been used in Georgia and Arizona districts to guide improvement.
for more information
For more information

Stephanie Hirsh, Ph.D.

Executive Director

National Staff Development Council

972-421-0900 or 214-732-1450

M. René Islas

NSDC Federal Policy Advisor

B&D Consulting

202-589-2835 or 571-274-5473