A report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) reviews the evidence on the impact of continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers, and finds that high-quality CPD can play a role in improving teaching quality.
Commissioned by Wellcome, the rapid review and meta-analysis examined 52 randomised controlled trials evaluating CPD programmes for teachers in order to establish their impact on pupil and teacher outcomes. These were trials of interventions that went beyond current practice in school, and might include training courses, mentoring, seminars and peer review.
The findings of the report suggest that high-quality CPD has a positive effect on pupils’ learning outcomes with an effect size of +0.09. The review also suggests that the availability of high-quality CPD may have a positive impact on teacher retention, particularly for early-career teachers.
Source: the effects of high-quality professional development on teachers and students: A rapid review and meta-analysis (February 2020), The Education Policy Institute
Reducing the number of high-stakes tests may contribute to the retention of new teachers, but not necessarily those who have been teaching longer, according to a working paper from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER).
Fuchsman and colleagues used changes in testing practices in the US state of Georgia
to consider what effect removing high-stakes testing for certain grades (year
groups) had on teacher retention. Over the last four decades, Georgia has
employed four different testing models which have included dropping all statewide
achievement tests in some grades, excluding some subject areas from testing,
and reducing the number of grades in which some subjects were tested. They
looked specifically at teachers in grades 1 to 8 (Years 2 to 9).
Results showed that, overall, removing testing did not have an impact on how likely teachers were to leave the profession or change schools.
Source: Testing teacher turnover and the distribution of teachers across grades and schools (February 2020), National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, CALDER Working Paper No. 229-0220
A recent study published in the Journal of Economics examined the effects of increasing education spending on pupil achievement in more than 3,000 diverse school districts in seven US states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Money for the increased spending was obtained via increases in property tax, sales tax and income tax – issues that had been placed on ballots and voted into effect.
Data for the study encompassed the years 2000–2015.
Results showed that five to seven years after education spending increased by
$1,000 per pupil, pupils in districts who had formerly been below the average
in spending per pupil had gained +0.15 on standardised testing and showed a 9%
increase in graduation rates. No statistically significant differences were
found for pupils at or above the average spending per pupil prior to the tax
Source: School district operational spending and student outcomes: Evidence from tax elections in seven states (March 2020), Journal of Economics, Volume 183
The Education Endowment Foundation has published an evaluation of a programme that trains early years teachers to improve children’s language outcomes. The Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years (URLEY) intervention is an evidence-based professional development programme for early years teachers. It is designed to improve teacher’s knowledge of how children learn and develop oral language skills, and how to support that learning through evidence-based practice.
Teachers take part in five day-long
professional development workshops in which they are introduced to
evidence-based learning principles and research tools to evaluate and refine
pedagogy and practice. In particular, teachers are taught to use Environment
Rating Scales (ERS) – research-validated observational rating scales known to
predict aspects of children’s development, with higher scores linked to
improved maths and English achievement. Teachers watched videos of effective
practice and were supported to use the language principles and ERS to “tune in”
to language-supporting practice.
Nearly 2,000 children from 120 schools from the West Midlands,
Liverpool and Manchester participated in the study from October 2016 to July
2018. The programme was evaluated using a randomised controlled trial, testing
the impact of the URLEY programme on children’s language development over two
years, compared to business as usual in control schools.
The results of the trial found that children in schools receiving
URLEY did not make additional progress in language development compared to
children in control schools, as measured by a composite language score (effect
size = -0.08). However, the programme did show a positive impact on the quality
of teaching (as measured by ERS), with effect sizes in the range of +0.5 to +0.7.
evaluation report (February 2020), Education
A study published in The Curriculum Journal presents the findings of a randomised controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of the Bug Club programme on the reading, spelling and vocabulary skills of pupils in the first two years of primary school compared to pupils in a control group.
Bug Club is a whole-school reading programme based on the
principles of guided reading and synthetic phonics. It is offered as part of,
rather than in addition to, standard literacy lessons. This study analysed data
from 1,273 pupils in Years 1 and 2 from 30 schools in the UK (15 intervention,
15 control). Pupils were tested at baseline and again at 6 months, 12 months,
and 18 months, using the InCAS reading assessment for 5- to 11-year-olds.
At the 6- and 12-month tests, pupils in the Bug Club schools showed
more progress on the standardised reading measure than pupils in control
schools (effect size = +0.18 and +0.16). For disadvantaged pupils, the picture
was mixed. After six months, there was a greater impact on reading gains in
schools with high levels of pupils eligible for free school meals than those in
control schools. After twelve months, this effect had disappeared, but pupils
eligible for pupil premium were found to have improved more on reading gains
than those in control schools.
of Bug Club: a randomised control trial of a whole school primary aged reading
programme (February 2020), The Curriculum
Journal. DOI: 10.1002/curj.29
Approaches to professional development that combine coaching or mentoring with new knowledge and opportunities for reflection on practice may be the most effective in improving outcomes in early childhood settings, according to a study published in Review of Education.
Sue Rogers and colleagues conducted the systematic review, which
was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, in order to examine the impact of
professional learning and development. The studies included in the review
identify approaches to professional learning that demonstrate impact on early
childhood education on one or more outcomes across three main areas: literacy
knowledge and skills, maths and science knowledge, and social-emotional and behavioural
The findings from the review suggest that coaching models, and
approaches that help develop pedagogical knowledge, may be the most effective
in improving outcomes in early childhood settings. The evidence on duration,
frequency and intensity of the professional learning, although likely to be
important factors, was inconclusive.
systematic review of the evidence base for professional learning in early years
education (The PLEYE Review) (February 2020), Review of Education, Vol 8, No 1