Contractors: AIR and MDRC
Title II, Part A, the Improving Teacher State Formula Grants program, is the primary federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to support a high quality teacher in every classroom. The program, funded at $2.9 billion in FY08, targets high poverty districts and funds a broad array of allowable activities such as support for certification including alternative certification, teacher mentoring and induction, intensive professional development, recruitment, retention, and merit-based teacher and principal pay strategies as well as class size reduction. This study of professional development in early reading provides important information for districts and schools using grants for this aspect of the program.
Professional development (PD) of teachers is viewed as a vital tool in school improvement efforts, but experts have raised a concern that much currently implemented PD is not sufficiently intensive or focused on subject matter knowledge to be effective. This study tested two PD interventions that draw on findings from the National Reading Panel and are of significantly longer than average duration. The study examined:
The two interventions evaluated were (1) an 8-day, content-focused institute series that begins in the summer and goes through the school year, based on the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) curriculum (treatment A) and (2) the institute series plus coaching during the school year by an in-school reading specialist, with coach training by the Consortium for Reading Excellence (CORE) (treatment B).
Ninety schools in six districts were recruited to take part in the study, with a focus on second grade teachers (270) and their students (more than 5,000). In each district, schools were randomly assigned in equal numbers to receive the institute series only (treatment A), the institute series plus coaching (treatment B), or the professional development normally provided by the district (the control condition). Data were collected during the implementation year (2005–06) and one additional year (to determine if any impacts persist) using measures of professional development implementation quality, teacher knowledge and practice, and student achievement obtained from administrative records.
Duration: 5.75 years (September 2003–May 2009)
Current Status: Completed. The report was released in September 2008 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20084030/). An evaluation brief that synthesizes findings from this study and two other IES studies of teacher PD was released in November 2016 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20174010/).