To complicate matters, however, the effects of this regimented kind of professional development are questionable. As Rick Hess argues: “We spend a lot on professional development…. Yet hardly any of this actually appears to make teachers better…only a tiny sliver of PD involving thirty to one hundred hours of teacher time showed any evidence of correlating with student achievement gains.” The effects of PD on student outcomes are unclear.
1. Could professional development possibly have positive effects in the classroom that don’t show up in student achievement as measured by test scores? I know a lot of the work we did in PLP made very positive impacts on teachers as learners and, subsequently, on students as learners. Much of that might be considered “immeasureable” however.
2. What if we don’t necessarily want teachers to get “better” in the traditional sense? What if, rather, the focus of PD is to help them evolve as learners? Or is that a silly question?
I don’t disagree that a lot of professional development monies are wasted. And truth be told, teachers should be responsible for their own PD now. Kids wouldn’t wait for a blogging workshop. Adults shouldn’t either.
But we’ve got to stop measuring everything by it’s impact on “student achievement” as defined by content based test results. There’s more to learning than that.