Promising Findings from a Study of Professional Development for High School Teachers

We don’t come across rigorous research on teacher professional development at the high school level as often as we’d like. So, when we read the positive findings from a randomized control trial of the web-mediated professional development strategy, My Teaching Partner—Secondary (MTP-S), we thought it would be interesting to blog about it.[1] MTP-S is a program that targets the motivational and instructional qualities of teachers’ interactions with students (e.g., builds a positive emotional climate, provides a sense of relevance for content) and can be used across the high school curriculum. The program intent is to tailor teacher/student interactions to adolescents’ developmental needs, thereby, improving motivation and engagement, and ultimately, achievement. The program integrates an initial workshop-based training, an annotated video library, and a year of personalized coaching, followed by a brief workshop. Over the course of the school year, teachers submit video recordings of their classes, and trained consultants review recordings and provide feedback through the website and 20- to 30-minute phone calls. The study reports substantial gains in student achievement scores the year following teachers’ participation in the MTP-S program, across subject areas and classrooms of different student compositions and structural characteristics. Interestingly, the researchers provided the program costs—consultants and video equipment averaged about $3,700 per teacher—which they concluded is within the range of typical annual expenditures for teacher in-service training. The researchers conclude the research article with a list of potential study limitations and recommend replication and further evaluation. Have you had experience with MTP-S or similar programs? Let us know!  Tweet us at @NHSCatAIR. [1] An Interaction-Based Approach to Enhancing Secondary School Instruction and Student Achievement Allen et al. Science, 333 (6045), p. 1034

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