School & District Management

Report: U.S. Lagging in Teacher Learning

By Anthony Rebora — March 16, 2009 1 min read
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Non-classroom time seen as more of a priority in other countries.

Teachers in the United States are given significantly less time and support for high-quality professional learning than their counterparts in other developed nations, according to a new report published by the National Staff Development Council.

The report, co-authored by Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, finds that U.S. teachers average 1,080 hours per year in classroom teaching time, leaving little time for non-classroom professional activities. By contrast, the average instruction time for teachers in other counties in the Organization of Economic Development is 803 hours per year for primary schools and 664 hours per year for secondary schools.

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In most European and Asian counties, according to the report, teachers have some 15 to 20 hours per week for grading, lesson preparation, meeting with students and parents, and working with colleagues. A significant number of schools in high-achieving countries build time into teachers’ work day or week for professional development, prominently including forms of collaborative work on instructional issues.

By comparison, the report says, the three to five hours per week that the average U.S. teacher has for lesson planning is usually not spent with colleagues.

The report, titled “Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the U.S. and Abroad,” also finds that the professional development that U.S. teachers do receive is largely provided in workshops and other short-term events, and is frequently not intensive or integral to their work.

“The nation lags,” the report concludes, “in providing public school teachers with chances to participate in extended learning opportunities and productive collaborative communities in which they conduct research on education-related topics; to work together on issues of instruction; to learn from one another through mentoring or peer coaching; and collectively to guide curriculum, assessment, and professional learning decisions.”

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A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2009 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook

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