When it comes to improving students’ math skills, teacher professional development has more of an impact than new textbooks or technology, says a research review by the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.
The review, published in the 2008 issue of the Review of Educational Research, looked at 87 previously released studies evaluating the effectiveness of math-improvement programs in elementary schools. The programs fell into three general categories—textbook changes, computer-assisted instruction, and professional development in specific teaching methods, such as cooperative learning.
The researchers found that the approaches aimed at changing teachers’ daily instructional practices were the most effective in boosting students’ scores.
“The debate about mathematics reform has focused primarily on curriculum, not on professional development or instruction,” said Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education and co-author of the review. “Yet the research review suggests that in terms of outcomes on math assessments, curriculum differences are less consequential than instructional differences.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2009 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook