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Does Teacher Professional Development Improve Student Learning? Evidence from Leading Educators’ Fellowship Model

Teachers are the most important school-specific factor in student learning. Yet, little evidence exists linking teacher professional development programs and the strategies or activities that comprise them to student achievement. In this paper, we examine a fellowship model for professional development designed and implemented by Leading Educators, a national nonprofit organization that aims to bridge research and practice to improve instructional quality and accelerate learning across school systems. During the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, Leading Educators conducted its fellowship program for two cohorts of instructional leaders, such as department chairs, mentor teachers, instructional coaches, and assistant principals, to provide these educators ongoing, collaborative, job-embedded professional development and to improve student achievement. Relying on quasi-experimental methods, we find that a school’s participation in the fellowship program significantly increased student proficiency rates in English language arts and math on state achievement exams. The positive impact was concentrated in the first cohort and in just one of three regions, and approximately 80 percent of treated schools were charters. Student achievement benefitted from a more sustained duration of participation in the fellowship program, varied depending on the share of a school’s educators who participated in the fellowship, and differed based on whether fellows independently selected into the program or were appointed to participate by their school leaders. Taken together, findings from this paper should inform professional learning organizations, schools, and policymakers on the design, implementation, and impact of educator professional development.

Teacher professional development; student achievement; professional learning communities; teacher coaching; distributed leadership.
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EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Audisio, Ariana, Rebecca Taylor-Perryman, Tim Tasker, and Matthew P. Steinberg. (). Does Teacher Professional Development Improve Student Learning? Evidence from Leading Educators’ Fellowship Model. (EdWorkingPaper: 22-597). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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