Last week, when we were speaking with a few teachers, the topic of district mandated Professional Development (PD) was brought up. In the specific example, the district held a dedicated teacher workshop day and all teachers were required to attend a half day workshop on grading.
Take a minute to imagine the training. All of the teachers were seated in an auditorium, a guest speaker that was flown into the area was presenting on a stage, and the lecture was four hours long. The discussion prompted us to reflect on The Mirage, a recent report on PD trends in the U.S., which was published by TNTP. It’s worth taking time to read the full report, but here are two highlights that caught our attention.
Professional Development is Expensive.
The report surveyed districts, albeit a relatively small number, and found that on average $18,000 per teacher per year is spent on PD activities. The public school system in the US employees about 3.1 million teachers. If you assume the average PD cost is off by 50%, which is a big miss, the total amount of money invested in PD in the U.S is $27,900,000,000. This is a BIG number!
Now, let’s look at this differently. Let’s assume that the actual amount spent on PD per teacher per year is between $9,000-$18,000. Do you think teachers can account for how the funding is being used this year? Do you think the majority would say that PD activities are improving teaching in their classroom?
No particular kind or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve.
Over time, teachers complete an ever increasing body of PD tasks. However, teacher performance plateaus after the first few years in the classroom despite the cumulative increase in the amount of time spent on PD. Just like the rest of us, many of these experienced teachers have room grow but often lack the support network and PD processes to improve.
How much does your school or district spend on PD per teacher per year? What PD tasks have you found to be the most helpful in your professional growth?