Fewer Hours, Fewer Results?
Are schools improving the delivery of
teacher professional development? Yes
and no, according to a recent report
from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the
National Staff Development Council
titled Professional Development in the
United States: Trends and Challenges.
Here are some findings:
; Nearly 75 percent of beginning
teachers participate in induction programs, and 80 percent report having a
mentor. A significantly lower percentage
of teachers in high-poverty, high-minority schools report such supports.
; Teachers received fewer hours
of professional development in 2008
than in 2004 in reading instruction,
classroom management, and using computers for instruction.
; Two-thirds of teachers reported
structured opportunities for collaboration, but time spent in collaboration
averaged only 2. 7 hours each week.
; Fewer than one-half of teachers
reported access to professional devel-
opment on teaching students with
disabilities ( 42 percent) and English
language learners ( 27 percent).
that for professional development to
have significant effects on student
achievement, teachers need at least 49
hours on a given topic and at least 100
hours in math and science.
Professional Development in the United
States: Trends and Challenges, by Ruth
Chung Wei, Linda Darling-Hammond,
and Frank Adamson, is available at
An End to Wild and Wacky
In the United Kingdom, British Education
Secretary Michael Gove recently exhorted
teachers to adopt a “commonsense”
approach to teaching and stay away from
what he called “wild and wacky” peda-
gogical methods that have distracted schools in the past.
Instead, teachers should teach academic subjects rigorously
and insist on strict standards of behavior. School uniforms are
also high on his list.
Gove’s comments come on the heels of a recent BBC docu-
mentary that suggests that Britain has a larger gap in perfor-
mance between private and state schools than most other
developed nations. The country has also witnessed a serious
slump in the study of core subjects. The number of students
achieving good results on the General Certificate of Secondary
Education in five core subjects has declined to 15 percent
over the past four years, whereas the number taking voca-
tional qualifications has skyrocketed. Gove blames this cir-
cumstance on the Labor Party’s decision to give nonacademic
qualifications equal value in school rankings (“league tables”);
he asserts that this move encourages schools to have their stu-
dents take easier rather than more challenging exams.