September 30, 2015

Contact:
Heather C. Hill, (617) 495-1898, heather_hill@harvard.edu
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

TNTP teacher development report strong but has limitations, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 30, 2015) – A recent report from TNTP, previously The New Teacher Project, argued for changes in the way public school districts think about teacher development.  The report identified a divide between teacher professional development and improved teacher evaluation scores. An academic review of the report released today finds the descriptive portions of the study to be strong, but several problems limit the usefulness of the report.

Heather C. Hill, the Jerome T. Murphy Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, reviewed The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About our Quest for Teacher Development for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Hill's primary work focuses on teacher and teaching quality and the effects of policies aimed at improving both.

The report offers lessons about professional development in three large school districts and one mid-size charter network. Specifically, the report provides details about teachers' time investment, how that time is spent, and district costs related to professional development.

Professor Hill identified several strengths of the report and noted that readers could benefit from the report's empirical evidence. However, she cautions that several of the reports conclusions are problematic.

Weaknesses of the report identified by the reviewer, include: (1) problems with the analysis comparing teachers' professional development and growth in teacher evaluation scores; (2) differences between academic conventions for calculating the cost of professional development and the methods used in the report; and (3) "hyperbolic" statements presented without sufficient support.

In support of the report, Hill declares that the work is novel: "Most academic scholars in this field focus on developing or studying high-profile, stand-alone professional development programs; only rarely do we inquire about the general offerings typically available to most teachers."

Hill also suggests that the report may spark a "much-needed public conversation regarding the effectiveness of teacher professional development." Her concluding remarks speak to the difficulties facing the re-imagining of professional development practices.

Read the full review at:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the report on the web:
http://tntp.org/publications/view/the-mirage-confronting-the-truth-about-our-quest-for-teacher-development

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education, Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develp reasearch-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/