Data points

By Learning Forward
April 2020
Vol 41, No. 2

4 times more uncertified teachers
Students of color tend to have less access to certified and experienced teachers than their white counterparts, according to a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute. Analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Education’s two most recent years of the Civil Rights Data Collection, researchers compared schools that enrolled the highest percentages of students of color with schools that enrolled the lowest percentages. Schools with high enrollments of students of color were four times more likely to employ uncertified teachers. Furthermore, nearly one in six teachers in these schools were new teachers. The report discusses how these patterns contribute to educational inequity.

23% of teachers have ‘a lot’ of influence on learning goals
A report from England’s National Foundation for Educational Research and the Teacher Development Trust examined the role of teacher autonomy and job retention. According to two national surveys, teachers reported less professional autonomy than other professionals, and teachers with the lowest self-reported levels of autonomy also have lower job satisfaction and job retention.

Troublingly, professional learning is one of the areas in which teachers report the lowest amount of autonomy: 38% of teachers said that they have little or no influence over their professional learning goals, and only 23% said they had a lot of influence over their professional learning goals.

Yet autonomy over professional learning goals is the factor most associated with higher job satisfaction. Researchers found that a one-step increase in influence (e.g. from some influence to a lot) increases a teacher’s intention to stay in teaching by 9 percentage points. They write, “This presents a significant opportunity for school leaders to consider how they design and deliver PD in their schools, harnessing the benefits of increased motivation from teachers having greater involvement in their PD goal-setting.”

28 studies of impact
A meta-analysis of professional learning’s impact on reading achievement in grades K-8 produced findings that are statistically significant with a moderate effect size. Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin sampled 28 experimental and quasi-experimental studies.

The significant effect was not dependent on characteristics of the professional learning, the teachers, or the students. (The researchers were not able to examine the quality of the professional learning.) Researchers speculated that this finding might be explained by heterogeneity among the professional learning approaches studied as well as overlap among approaches in each study.

90% of administrators see professional learning as good investment
Advancement Courses surveyed 500 U.S. school leaders about their perceptions of and needs for teacher professional learning. Nearly 90% said that professional development is a good investment, but nearly 60% said current professional learning opportunities aren’t sufficient.

They cited time and money as the major challenges, with 83% of school leaders citing cost as a top determining factor in the type of professional learning offered. Overall, 67% of school leaders reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their current offerings. Those at schools with higher-than-average budgets for professional learning were more likely to be satisfied than others.

3 principles for professional learning
Student Achievement Partners recently released its principles for high-quality, standards-aligned professional learning. Identified from research review and field interviews, the principles represent characteristics that are essential for quality, regardless of the specific form the professional learning takes.

The three principles explain how professional learning must be content-focused, so that teachers have the knowledge and skills required of their discipline; teacher- and student-centered, so that teaching reflects all backgrounds, questions biases and assumptions, and creates a vibrant learning culture for both adults and students; and instructionally relevant and actionable.

Download the PDF version

The Learning Professional

Published Date


Recent Issues

February 2020

Student needs are at the center of strong professional ..

December 2019

Coaching can transform teaching, and therefore student ..

October 2019

For education leaders, stress and challenges are part o..

August 2019

The movement to personalize learning is growing. What d..