Short Review: High Quality Professional Development for Teachers
As states and schools get ready for Common Core implementation, they had better prepare for higher quality education for both students and teachers. The Center for American Progress recently released a report by Jenny DeMonte that reviews teachers’ attitudes toward their professional learning experiences and Common Core State Standards preparation. The report cites a study that found the majority of teachers welcomed the Common Core and believed it would improve their teaching, but worried that they needed additional standards-related professional development. With many states introducing new teacher evaluation systems, the report recognizes the connection between effective teacher evaluations and personalized professional development. Schools should be utilizing these systems to provide teachers with the feedback and support necessary to improve instruction, especially as teachers begin to fully align Common Core standards with curriculum. With Common Core in mind, DeMonte observes, “The nascent changes to education all require educators to learn new and better ways to do their jobs.” The Common Core State Standards will only be effective if teachers are prepared for these changes, making the standards adoption truly “a classroom-level school reform.” As such, teachers must be experts on these standards, ready to provide students with the rigorous and relevant education called for by the Common Core. This will only be feasible through meaningful professional development. DeMonte recommends administrators and education policymakers advocate for the following as they prepare teachers for Common Core: (1) provide needed support for professional development activities, (2) share resources with educators throughout the United States, and (3) use technology to improve teaching. Ohioans continue to debate the merits of the Common Core, often with only having a limited understanding of the standards. But it is the teachers themselves who need to be the Common Core’s foremost experts with as much professional support and knowledge necessary to make the standards’ goal of positioning our communities to “compete successfully in the global economy” a reality.
Jenny DeMonte, High-Quality Professional Development for Teachers: Supporting Teacher Training to Improve Student Learning (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, July 2013).