The lost promise of teacher professional development in England

Published in: European Journal of Teacher Education, v. 34, no. 1, Feb. 2011, p. 3-24

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2011

by V. Darleen Opfer, David J Pedder

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This paper explores three influences on the effectiveness of teacher professional development for improving schools - the individual teacher, the learning activities in which teachers participate and the structures and supports provided by schools for teacher learning. It does so by relying on survey data collected for a national study of teacher professional development in England. The analysis indicates that while the professional development of teachers in England is generally ineffectual and lacks school level systems and supports, the professional development and supports for professional learning by teachers in high performing schools display many of the characteristics associated with effective professional learning. Given the results showing a link between school factors and professional learning and the lack of influence of individual teacher factors, the paper concludes that the previously reported importance of school capacity in influencing learning and improvement is supported by the findings.

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