March 08, 2012
HOW TO ENSURE THAT GOOD PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GETS RESULTS
In new report, NIET outlines steps to create and support infrastructure for delivering high-quality 'PD' that leads to student growth
Los Angeles, CA—Recent research has proven that "job-embedded" professional development (PD) can improve instruction and student learning—if there is a sufficient infrastructure in place to support, oversee and reinforce it. In a report released today, Beyond "Job-Embedded": Ensuring That Good Professional Development Gets Results (PDF), the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) outlines how it uses TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement to ensure that "job-embedded" PD—professional development delivered by site-based teacher leaders during the school day—results in student academic growth.
"As districts and schools shift resources toward better models of 'sustained, job-embedded professional development,' policymakers and education leaders must ensure that PD that can improve teaching and learning really does so consistently and reliably in a particular school," said Dr. Gary Stark, president and CEO of NIET.
The TAP system is a revolutionary education reform that offers educators powerful opportunities for career advancement through teacher leadership roles and responsibilities; ongoing job-embedded professional growth through weekly collaborative "cluster" group meetings and individual coaching; fair and rigorous educator evaluation and performance-based compensation.
The report describes how TAP incorporates a structure to maximize the impact of collaborative learning teams and instructional coaching—both strategies that recent studies by Biancarosa et al.1 and by Saunders et al.2 found to be potentially effective. TAP also takes the critical next step to support, oversee and reinforce PD through a range of other mechanisms, including explicit teacher leadership roles, clear but achievable responsibilities for principals, schoolwide instructional leadership teams, and alignment with other human resource strategies.
Step-by-Step of TAP’s collaborative professional development process, led by administrators, mentor and master teachers who form the TAP Leadership Team:
- Target specific student needs.
- Select and field-test classroom strategies.
- Learn new strategies in cluster group meetings.
- Provide follow-up coaching to every teacher. TAP master and mentor teachers have the time, authority and resources to provide one-on-one coaching for each teacher, carefully calibrating the content and form of coaching to meet teachers’ individual needs.
- Collect and analyze student results.
Before school opens in the fall, the TAP Leadership Team analyzes student achievement results and develops a schoolwide plan for improving learning directly related to the school’s students. In addition to identifying broad school goals, the leadership team in a TAP school breaks down these goals to smaller more manageable subgoals, and develops a specific plan for supporting teachers in helping students reach these goals. In addition to benchmark assessments, student learning is continually monitored through formative assessments based on weekly student work.
Master teachers select research-based strategies that cluster groups use to achieve their specific goals. Before introducing the strategy to other teachers, they first rigorously field-test it with a sampling of students, conduct pre- and post-assessments and collect before-and-after student work. This ensures the strategy works with students in that school.
Master teachers teach the strategy by following a “gradual release” approach known in TAP as the five STEPS for Effective Learning, in which the strategy is carefully sequenced and segmented into manageable chunks.
In the TAP system, all teachers return to the weekly cluster meeting with analyzed student work representing high, medium and low levels of proficiency, to determine whether the strategy has increased student learning.
Independent of the TAP cluster meetings the administrators, master and mentor teachers facilitate for all teachers, the TAP Leadership Team meets weekly to oversee TAP system implementation. Members actively plan for and monitor cluster group activities to ensure that they lead to increased teacher proficiency and student achievement in the targeted areas. As another layer of support, members of the school leadership team receive support from NIET or state-level TAP teams.
As all of TAP's elements reinforce one another, teacher evaluation and compensation policies also reinforce job-embedded PD and help schools hold all staff members accountable for success in the professional development process.
The report is released as a prelude to the 12th National TAP Conference: Building a System of Teacher Leaders taking place in Los Angeles March 9-10, 2012, and will be discussed in detail during a panel discussion led by Kristan Van Hook, NIET senior vice president of public policy and development, on Friday afternoon, March 9. The panel, "Rethinking Teacher Professional Support," will explore how to scale up effective professional development and create greater accountability and autonomy for teachers.
The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching is an independent public charity committed to ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America. It pursues its work through two signature initiatives: TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement and the NIET Best Practices Center. Learn more at www.niet.org and www.tapsystem.org.
1Biancarosa, G., Bryk, A.S., & Dexter, E.R. (2010, September). Assessing the value-added effects of Literacy Collaborative professional development on student learning, The Elementary School Journal, 111(1), 7-34.
2Saunders, W.M. Goldenberg, C.N., & G Gallimore, R. (2009, December). Increasing achievement by focusing grade-level teams on improving classroom learning: A prospective, quasi-experimental study of Title I schools. American Educational Research Journal, 46(4), 1006-1033.
Barry Whittington, Career Teacher, Donaldsonville High School, Ascension Parish, Louisiana
". . . The TAP process places an emphasis on support from master and mentor teachers who come into my classroom to help me implement the strategies we are learning. As I grow professionally, the TAP process assists me in monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of my students and gives me the tools I need to develop strategies so that all of my students are engaged, enriched and successful learners."