Why We’re Wasting Billions on Teacher Development

Why We’re Wasting Billions on Teacher Development

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
By Beth Braverman

School districts spend an average $18,000 per year on teacher development, and teachers devote about 10 percent of their time to professional learning, but a new report finds that such programs may not be producing any measurable results.

The report, released today by TNTP, a nonprofit aimed at addressing educational equality, finds even with development programs, teachers do not show much improvement year over year, and the performance for the vast majority (70 percent) remained constant or declined over the past two to three years.

The report’s authors believe the lack of improvement stems from low expectations for teacher development and performance, and they suggest that schools need to rethink completely the ways that they measure teacher performance and the way they conduct student development.

Related: The Education Department Is Failing Students Who Got Defrauded

The study evaluated information on more than 10,000 teachers at three large school districts and a charter network covering nearly 400,000 students.

The authors report that teachers who do show improvement do not appear to be the result of deliberate, systemic efforts, and show no clear patterns that could improve development for others. “The absence of common threads challenges us to confront the true nature of the problem,” they write. “That as much as we wish we knew how to help all teachers improve, we do not.”

Rather than offer specific solutions, the authors suggest that schools redefine professional development, re-evaluate professional learning programs, and reinvent the ways they support teachers.

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