Fourth grade math teachers who took content-intensive professional development improved their own general math knowledge, but those gains did not trickle down to students,.
For the study, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, 221 4th grade teachers across five states were randomly assigned to either take part in the professional development or not.
The group that participated took an 80-hour workshop in summer 2013 that “focused on deepening teachers’ knowledge of grades K-8 mathematics.” Teachers also received 13 hours of professional development during the 2013-14 school year, including one-on-one coaching sessions and meetings during which they analyzed student work.
The teacher-participants scored 7 points higher on a test of math knowledge than those in the control group (258 versus 251) after the intensive summer program, and their gains were sustained.
Students whose teachers took the professional development scored 2 percentile points lower than the control teachers’ students on both the state math assessment and another test, though the difference was not statistically significant.
A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2016 edition of Education Week as Teacher Learning