Professional development for high school teachers : an investigation of its effect on student achievement and long term effect on teacher knowledge and practice
Vega, Tina Louise
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Intuitively, providing teachers with high-quality professional development that focuses on research-based strategies should improve teacher practice that in turn would positively affect student outcomes. Displaying and translating this pathway is much harder than it seems. Even though there are recommendations in abundance for high-quality teacher professional development to be provided in order to meet ambitious reforms (i.e. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000; "No Child Left Behind Act," 2001), “we are only beginning to learn…exactly what and how teachers learn from professional development, or about the impact of teacher change on student outcomes” (Borko, 2004, p. 3). The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the effects and longevity of professional development (PD) on secondary mathematics teachers’ knowledge and practice while investigating student achievement. This research was intended to further the field by providing a description of changes in teacher knowledge and practice as a result of PD of high school teachers looking for plausible links that could influence student achievement therefore working to establish “links among professional development, teacher learning and practice and student learning” (Yoon et al., 2007, p. 3). This investigation utilized teacher and student data from the program years, as well as data collected two years after the professional development, providing a unique look at the longevity of effects on the teachers. This results from this dissertation demonstrated the longevity of changes in teachers from the PD, a need for PD research according to Kazemi and Hubbard (2008). Indeed, teacher knowledge and practice changed from the PD according to the data and the effect of the PD continued and/or expanded in many teachers. The change in teachers’ practice and knowledge during the PD, however, was not found to have significantly affected student achievement. Additionally, data from this dissertation supported the idea in prior literature that content, active learning, collaboration, and leadership are key components of long-term, effective PD. It further revealed the interconnections between the theoretical framework pieces describing ways teachers learn and develop from PD experiences.