Teacher PD – Week 1 – Reading Notes

Readings & Citations

Borko, H., 2004. “Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain”

How to conduct research on professional development programs.

Research in 3 phases:

  1. Existence Proofs of Effective Professional Development
  2. Well-Specified Professional Development Programs
  3. Multiple Effective Professional Development Programs


“As one example, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 requires that states ensure the availability of “high-quality” professional development for all teachers. NCLB does not, however, address questions such as what constitutes high-quality professional development or how professional development should be made available to teachers. Similarly, “Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action,” the report released recently by The Teaching Commission (2004), reminds us that teaching is “our nation’s most valuable profession” (p. 12), arguing forcefully that “helping our teachers to succeed and enabling our children to learn is an investment in human potential, one that is essential to guaranteeing America’s future freedom and prosperity” (p. 11).”, p.3

“For example, we have evidence that professional de- velopment can lead to improvements in instructional practices and student learning. We are only beginning to learn, however, about exactly what and how teachers learn from professional de- velopment, or about the impact of teacher change on student outcomes (Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002; Fishman, Marx, Best, & Tal, 2003; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001). We have a full research agenda ahead of us to gather the information necessary to guide professional development policy and practice.”, p.3

“Individual Focus: Teacher Knowledge and Practices Can Change Through Intensive Professional Development Programs”, p. 5

“To foster students’ conceptual understanding, teachers must have rich and flexible knowledge of the subjects they teach.”, p.5

“Experiences that engage teachers as learners in activities such as solving mathematical problems and conducting scientific experiments are particularly effective.”, p.5

“To guide student thinking, teachers must also understand how children’s ideas about a subject develop, and the connections between their ideas and important ideas in the discipline (Schifter & Fosnot, 1993).”, p.6

“Research using the individual teacher as the unit of analysis also indicates that meaningful learning is a slow and uncertain process for teachers, just as it is for students.”, p.6

“The QUASAR project staff who studied these programs concluded that professional learning communities were central to fostering teacher change and student learning.”, p.6

“They argued that we cannot expect teachers to create a community of learners among students if they do not have a parallel community to nourish their own growth.”, p.7

“Norms that promote supportive yet challenging conversations about teaching are one of some most important features of successful learning communities.”, p.7

“Phase 1 research that explores how teachers learn through participation in professional development communities reveals that records of classroom practice are powerful tools for facilitating teacher change.”, p.7

“They came to see their class- rooms as places for their own learning as well as students’ learning.”, p.7

“Our analyses indicate that questions that pushed the teachers to share their mathematical thinking—such as “Prove it” and “Would you care to elaborate on that?”—were much more common in January than in profes- sional development sessions earlier in the school year.”, p.8

“These studies suggest that the facilitator is crucial to the success of the professional development program.”, p.10

“To maintain integrity, a program must effectively communicate the intended goals and uses of resources to prospective facilitators and provide support materials that will enable them to use the resources in the intended ways.”, p.10

“In a professional development system, the “students” are teachers, the “teachers” are facilitators, and the “curriculum” is the professional development program.”, p.13


Desimone, L., 2009 “Improving Impact Studies of Teachers’ Professional Development: Toward Better Conceptualizations and Measures”

  1. What counts as professional development?
  2. What purposes could a core conceptual framework serve, and what such framework is supported by the research?
  3. What are the implications for modes of inquiry in causal studies of teacher learning?

“Furthermore, some of the most powerful teacher learning experiences can occur in a teacher’s own classroom, through self or observer examination of the teacher’s practice (Putnam & Borko, 2000).”, p.182

“Recent research reflects a consensus about at least some of the characteristics of professional development that are critical to increasing teacher knowledge and skills and improving their practice, and which hold promise for increasing student achievement (Hawley & Valli, 1999; Kennedy, 1998; Wilson & Berne, 1999): (a) content focus, (b) active learning, (c) coherence, (d) duration, and (e) collective participation.”, p.183

“A well-constructed and administered interview, observation, or survey protocol, when used appropriately, can provide similarly useful data, just as a poorly constructed or administered interview, observation, or survey protocol can provide skewed and biased information.”, p. 190

“‘It is never too late to become reasonable and wise; but if the knowledge comes late, there is always more difficulty in starting a reform.’ —Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics”, p.192

“Professional development is a key to reforms in teaching and learning, making it essential that we use best practice to measure its effects.”, p.192

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014 “Teachers Know Best – Teachers’ Views on Professional Development”

The differences between what teachers want vs what the district, policy makers, researchers, and PD creators have.

  • Current state professional development participation, needs, and satisfaction
  • Professional development decision-making and system-level barriers and enablers
  • Professional development market size and supplier landscape (key providers, products, and services offered) • Professional development needs in the future and emerging offerings
  • Areas and causes of supply and demand mismatches

Wilson, S., 2013 “Professional Development for Science Teachers”

The state of PD in the US

“The U.S. PD system is a carnival of options.”, p.310

“Five general characteristics have been identified: (i) focusing on specific content, (ii) engaging teachers in active learning, and (iii) enabling the collective participation of teachers (sometimes administrators), as well as (iv) coherence (aligned with other school policy and practice) and (v) sufficient duration (both in intensity and contact hours) (3–6).”, p.310

“However, neither PD intervention resulted in significantly higher student test scores, and there was no additional benefit of the PD enhanced by the coaching.”, p.311

“Researchers found that each PD course significantly increased teacher and student science test scores, and the effects held one year later. However, only PD that involved teachers examining student thinking and considering the implications for instruction was associated with increases in both teacher and student science knowledge.”, p.311

“Teachers who participated in the content-only SI demonstrated initial gains in CK immediately after the summer but were unable to maintain those gains through the school year.”, p.311

“Currently available measures of student learning focus largely on the mastery of scientific facts but do not assess students’ conceptual understanding or their abilities to engage in scientific practices, which are the foci of much PD.”, p.311

“Although researchers have identified several features of effective PD, rigorous research has yet to produce conclusive support for those characteristics. Problems include a lack of sound measures and a strong theoretical understanding of the mechanisms of teacher learning.”, p.311

“Schools with strength in three to five of these supports were 10 times more likely to demonstrate significant learning gains (as measured in mathematics and reading).”, p.312

“It is nearly impossible to isolate the effects of PD on student learning.”, p.312

“Online PD has the potential for providing “just-in-time assistance” and is potentially more scalable than PD that presses on limited local resources.”, p.312