By Learning Forward
August 2019
Vol. 40 No. 4

Recent reports on modernizing the teaching workforce, improving physics teaching, and rethinking “achievement gap” terminology.

TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I) OECD, 2019

The Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) has released the latest report in its series of international teacher surveys. OECD researchers survey teachers from around the world every five years to learn about their working conditions and learning environments. The latest report about the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 focused on the knowledge and skills required to teach and included findings about professional learning. Across countries, more than 90% of teachers and principals attended at least one professional development activity in the year before the survey. But only 44% of teachers participated in peer learning or networking, even though they identified collaborative learning as one of the best forms of professional learning. Among teachers’ priorities for future focus areas are teaching in multicultural/multilingual settings and teaching students with special needs.

• Helping Physics Teachers Who Don’t Know Physics Science Daily, June 25, 2019
• Comparing Advanced Placement Physics Teachers Experiencing Physics-Focused Professional Development Journal of Science Teacher Education, May 1, 2019

A recent study published in the Journal of Science Teacher Education adds to the literature on the benefits of content-focused professional learning. It compared two groups of Advanced Placement high school physics teachers who had no training or expertise in teaching the subject.

One group participated in a National Science Foundation-funded three-year program designed “to improve their understanding of physics concepts and to assist them in developing teaching strategies to help their students better retain what they learn about physics,” according to Science Daily. Teachers engaged in the professional learning scored 40% higher than control teachers on a classroom observation measure that assessed lesson design and implementation, content, classroom culture, communicative interactions, and student/teacher relationships. Those teachers shifted their practice over time to use more inquiry-based, hands-on, and conceptually focused teaching methods.
Science Daily article:
Journal article:

Achievement Gap’ Language Affects Teachers’ Issue Prioritization Educational Researcher, July 11, 2019

Education leaders, researchers, and other experts have begun to criticize the often-used phrase “achievement gap” for being deficit-focused and failing to acknowledge the role of structures and systems in creating between-group differences in educational outcomes. A long history of social science research shows that the terminology we use affects how we think about issues and whether and how we act on them. A group of education researchers hypothesized that teachers would place a lower priority on addressing differences in group outcomes when hearing the phrase “racial achievement gap” than when hearing the phrase “racial inequality in educational outcomes.” Results published in the Journal of Educational Psychology from a national randomized survey experiment supported this hypothesis. The researchers recommended that “teachers, education leaders, researchers, and journalists should therefore give thought to the messaging and language they use when discussing issues regarding race and education.”

Modernizing the Teaching Workforce for Learner-Centered, Competency-Based, Equity-Oriented Education: State Policy Recommendations
iNACOL, July 2019

The latest in a series of iNACOL briefs about preparing educators for learner-centered education focuses on the role of state policy. The report shares five key strategies for leveraging state policies and structures to support teachers in meeting 21st-century demands of student learning and workforce needs. The recommendations are anchored to the vision outlined in a CompetencyWorks report about personalizing learning, Moving Toward Mastery: Growing, Developing, and Sustaining Educators for Competency-Based Education. It includes lessons from the field from the state of Virginia and elsewhere.

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