Study: School districts don’t know how to help teachers | WBEZ
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Study: School districts don't know how to help teachers

A new report out today finds school systems don’t really know how to help teachers improve, despite a huge financial investment in training.

The report, titled The Mirage, is being released by TNTP, a non-profit focused on effective teaching.

The findings show that nearly seven of 10 teachers in the districts studied showed no improvement on their evaluation ratings -- or even declined -- over the last few years. Where there was improvement, researchers could find no link to specific training or development strategies

The report surveyed teachers in three large school districts and one charter school network, but does not name them. However, the findings echo those of a local study released in June by the Chicago chapter of Educators for Excellence.

Dejernet Farder, a first grade teacher at Morton School of Excellence on the West Side of Chicago, is part of Educators for Excellence and said, although her school does a pretty good job with development, many of the districtwide trainings are not helpful.

“I’ve been to many that just kind of feel like a powerpoint slide, it’s just an adult talking at us,” Farder said. “There’s no room for discussion, no room for exploration. And just like kids don’t learn that way, adults don’t learn that way either.”

CPS has an online professional development tool, called Learning Hub, that allows teachers to give “Yelp-like” reviews, Farder said. But nine of 10 teachers surveyed by Educators for Excellence said they rarely or never used it.

The misalignment of professional development and improving teacher practice is not new. But concern is growing, now that CPS has overhauled teacher evaluations.

“Right now, I’m getting feedback from a principal and then basically left with, ‘How do I fix this?’” Farder said.

She said she hopes CPS will take a close look at what it’s already doing and figure out how trainings can be more useful to classroom teachers.

Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at bvevea@wbez.org and follow her @WBEZeducation.

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