Evidence-based teacher PD

Really interesting news from eSchool News today announcing that the US Department of Education is embarking on a three-year project to create a decision support tool that will enable educators to track and manage professional development, report on data from various sources and create various scenarios to enhance the practice of teaching in schools.

“We know high-quality teaching make the biggest difference in improving student performance,” said Brian Rowan, a professor with the Educational Studies Program at the University of Michigan. “What we don’t know is how to routinely target professional development so that it meets the needs of teachers and students. That’s what this grant will allow Co-nect and the consortium to explore, understand, and act upon.”

Rather than use traditional sources of data, such as explicit assessments from teachers’ skill exams or student test scores, the consortiuum plans to perform climate surveys as its data source, claiming that this approach is most likey to yield changes in the shortest period of time.

This announcement interests me for three main reasons…

  1. it would appear to go against the grain of much of what I saw at NECC where the emphasis was on usig test scores and grades as the basis of data driven decision making
  2. in NZ, the Education Review Office (ERO) is about to publish the first of a series of reports on how schools are using ICT, with a view to informing furture PD directions (at school and national level) Things have developed along way from the picture painted in ERO’s 2001 ICT report – (the matrix appended at the end of the report which was used in the analysis of ERO data is something I helped create at that time!)
  3. the work that I’ve been doing with Dr Vince Ham and others in developing an Educational Positioning System (EPS) is designed to provide data from a contextual point of view as a starting point for planning for PD etc.

I’ll be interested to see what emerges from this project, and how well it links with the sorts of things happening in the NZ contexts.

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