Teacher training in math doesn’t help

Intensive, well-designed training didn’t improve seventh-grade math teachers’ knowledge or their students achievement in a federally funded study by the American Institutes for Research and MDRC.  From Education Week:

The program studied was “far more intensive and extensive—and better—than the typical professional development” that teachers receive, noted Elizabeth Warner, an economist at the federal Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and the project officer for the study.

Over two years, teachers were supposed to get 114 “contact hours” of training on how to teach about rational numbers, including summer institutes, one-day follow-up seminars, and in-school coaching visits.

Teachers with one or more years of training did score higher on “knowing what types of graphic representations will best convey specific ideas clearly, and knowing the common student misunderstandings.”

But training didn’t lead to higher student achievement.

Teachers’ general math knowledge, which wasn’t affected by the training, correlated to significantly higher student achievement, the study found.

A similar study on early reading, completed in 2008, “showed no statistically significant impact on student achievement after teachers were exposed to one of two year-long staff development program,” notes Ed Week.

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