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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Impact Evaluation of Professional Development for Teachers on Data-Driven Instruction

Contractor: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Abt Associates, Synergy Enterprises (SEI), Evidence-Based Education Research & Evaluation (EBERE), and Focused Schools

Background/Research Questions:

Title II, Part A, the Improving Teacher Quality State Formula Grants program, is the primary federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to improve teacher quality. The program, funded at $2.3 billion in FY16, targets high-poverty districts and funds a broad array of allowable activities including professional development for teachers. Teachers and schools have ongoing data from student performance and assessments that provide information about students' academic needs. This study evaluates the effectiveness of professional development for teachers to use such data to guide instruction.

Using student academic progress information to adapt instruction is the primary emphasis of data-driven instruction strategies. Existing evidence is limited. However, it suggests that professional development that helps teachers focus on individual students' academic needs is promising. Principals will be included in the professional development activities to provide teachers encouragement and support.

The study will address the following research question:

  • What are the effects on student achievement of providing professional development to principals and teachers that focuses on using individual student academic information already available to school staff to guide instruction?
  • What are the effects of providing this professional development on teachers' and principals' use of individual student academic information to inform instructional support, planning, and practice?


The study is a randomized controlled trial with a sample of 104 schools in 12 districts. In each district, schools were randomly assigned to treatment (professional development) or to control (business as usual) status. Data collection will consist of a teacher survey, a principal survey, and student administrative records, including student state standardized achievement test scores.

Duration: $9,896,408 over 6 years (September 2012–September 2018)

Current Status: Implementation of the professional development has been completed. Data analyses are underway. The study findings report is scheduled to be released in summer 2018 and will be announced on