Professional development has moderate effects on changing teachers practices, but very small—although occasionally significant—effects on student achievement, according to a study published in the February edition of Teachers College Record.
Michigan State University researcher Marjorie R. Wallace examined student-achievement data linked to specific teachers across six databases. Two of these data sets derived from the 2000 Beginning Teacher Preparation Survey, in Connecticut and Tennessee; the remaining four came from different administrations of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The study found more consistent results for mathematics professional development than for reading. A one standard-deviation increase in professional development translated into moderate increases in the average frequency of math instruction.
The study also found that the effects of professional development on student achievement vis-à-vis teachers’ practices, are larger than the more indirect effects of professional development on student achievement.
A version of this article appeared in the April 08, 2009 edition of Education Week