Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Online Professional Development Helps Students Surpass Expectations

In a slight departure from this month's theme on job-embedded professional development for teachers, I'd like to discuss the enormous potential that students are demonstrating.

I'm writing an article for Scholastic Administrator wherein I discuss the effect that online professional development is having on student achievement. Far from being a self-serving article, the article is meant to inform educators of what is truly happening throughout the nation when educators use online PD. Here are some independently confirmed stats from research done on PD 360--but know that the statistics you are about to see are not, in fact, what is important about this research. More to come on that, but first, the stats:

Online professional development for teachers is opening amazing avenues for student achievement. See graphs and research here.
422 Title I Schools Compared to Their Districts
In 2011, independent researcher Steven Shaha, DBA, PhD, shows that students at 422 Title I schools with PD 360 significantly outperformed their districts from one year to the next. Students in Title I schools improved reading scores by 4.8%, whereas their peers throughout the district only improved by 0.1%. Math scores tell a more dramatic story, with Title I school students improving by 7.3% and district students declining by -5.9%, creating a performance gap of 13.2%.

Online professional development for teachers is opening amazing avenues for student achievement. See graphs and research here.
Online Professional Development Results in Hawaii Compared to Districts
Also in 2011, 294 Hawaiian schools with PD 360 outpaced the rest of their state by more than 30% on standardized tests. PD 360 certainly cannot be called the direct cause of these improvements, but continued research over an extended period of time suggests a strong correlation between PD 360--and, by extension, online PD in general--and significant student perform. As an example of that continued research, in 2009, research shows that 187 schools outperformed district benchmarks by as much as 28.8%.

 The most significant findings in this research are not--and allow me to re-emphasize that the most significant findings are not--the results that correlate to PD 360. What is most significant about this research is just how much potential is clearly within our students. It just needs to be brought out when teachers have more support and training that answers their needs.

Our students receive better training when their teachers have an established learning method themselves. After aggregating this research, I came to the realization that we as teachers are professional students--we have mastered the learning process, and it is up to us to transmit that process to our students. Because our goal is not to fill their minds with names, dates, facts, and rules--our goal is to help our students to learn how to learn. When students can seize that process for themselves and understand how to ask the right questions, then they become not only independent, but filled with an insatiable desire to learn.

We are teachers, in part, because we have that passion for learning. So as professional students, we have questions, but we also need answers and coaches of our own. That's why online PD is so essential--the differentiation is unparalleled, the cost-efficiency is unmatched, and above all, the statistics show how much our students stand to gain when we train ourselves. 

I'm not trying to encourage you to use PD 360, per se. Every district has unique needs, and perhaps PD 360 is not the product that meets the majority of your needs (though frankly, I rather doubt that). But seek out personalized, differentiated training. Your students stand to gain an immeasurable amount of good when we as professional students have instruction of our own.

How has your professional development plan been working out? What do you like--or hate--about your current PD plan, and how could it improve? We have a lot to learn from each other. Sound off in the comments!


  1. You can easily get a feel for the way classroom resources are going, the latest technology, the newest ideas for teaching your subject.

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  2. Let’s say it’s the end of your face-to-face workshop. We need to make sure our teachers are aware of whom to contact, where to look, what to Google, etc.

    professional development for teachers