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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Coaching works for teachers

Personalized training for teachers is effective, write Matthew A. Kraft and David Blazar in Education Next, but taking coaching to scale poses challenges.

Traditional forms of professional development — daylong seminars delivering “the same tips and tricks to an entire department, grade level, or school” — have “little or no effect on teacher quality,” they write.

One-on-one instructional coaching, based on classroom observations, does make a difference, they conclude, after analyzing results from 60 studies.

“With coaching, the quality of teachers’ instruction improves by as much as—or more than—the difference in effectiveness between a novice and a teacher with five to 10 years of experience.”

Virtual coaching, using video technology, was as effective as in-person coaching, a finding that could lower costs. However, smaller programs, with fewer than 100 teachers, were much more effective than larger programs.

New York City has invested heavily in literacy coaches to help elementary teachers help struggling readers. A study of the first year found no benefit for second graders from low-income families.

Coaches received insufficient training, said Susan Neuman, a New York University professor of literacy education. “The coaching is all over the place,” she said. “You get some people who don’t have a clue about reading.”

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