by Jackie Norton, President & CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona

Dismal reports on the state of our education system are nothing new. A recent story, however, set off alarm bells not only in the education media but also hit the Wall Street Journal. The findings in the report by TNTP, formerly the New Teacher Project, were shocking…it concluded that while school districts spend an average of $18,000 per teacher annually on professional development, only three out of 10 teachers among the 10,000 surveyed saw substantial improvement in their practice and two out of 10 teachers actually saw their performance decline. Clearly, it’s time to stop wasting time and money on ineffective professional development, but does any of it work? A 2013 report by the Center for Public Education cites research concluding that effective professional development is based on the following principles:

  • The content must be subject and grade level specific and of sufficient duration to allow time for teachers to learn a new strategy and grapple with how to implement it
  • Teachers must be supported during the implementation stage to handle the specific challenges of changing classroom practice
  • Teachers’ exposure to a concept should not be passive, they should actively engage and participate in making sense of new practice
  • Modeling is a highly effective way to introduce and help teachers understand a new practice

Here’s some good news, Rodel’s Math 20/20 professional development initiative hits all of these targets and adds other important research-based components to ensure systemic change and sustainability. Our goal is to provide teachers with a deep understanding of the math they are teaching. We all know the old maxim; you can’t teach what you don’t understand. We aim to be the exception and provide professional development that actually works!