Professional Development Report Roundup

Study Charts Declines in Teacher-Training Hours

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 31, 2010 1 min read

Most beginning teachers now appear to be receiving induction services, but teachers overall are spending less time in some kinds of sustained professional-development activities than just a few years ago, according to a new analysis of federal data.

Released last week by the National Staff Development Council, a Dallas-based membership group supportive of school-based teacher training, the report was penned by three researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. It’s the second of a three-part research study on professional development.

The study draws on data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 administrations of the federal Schools and Staffing Survey, a nationally representative data set. In 2008, the scholars found that 78 percent of beginning teachers reported having had a mentor, though not always in the same content area. That’s a leap from 71 percent of teachers in 2004 and 62 percent in 2000.

“We seem to have broken through and come to an understanding of the importance of induction,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, a report author.

But the intensity of other types of professional development decreased between 2004 and 2008, the report says. Training of at least nine to 16 hours on the use of computers for instruction, reading instruction, and student discipline all declined notably, while training of up to eight hours in those areas shot up. Time spent in teachers’ own content areas was roughly comparable.

The study also found that, nearly a decade after the No Child Left Behind Act put more emphasis on special populations, only 42 percent of teachers reported having special-education-focused professional development and 27 percent received training in working with English-language learners.

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Study Charts Declines In Teacher-Training Hours

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