February 14, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes


In order to expand, enhance, and further develop AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers Initiative (TTI) program, we are continuously researching best practices and contemporary pedagogical innovations in the teachers’ professional development space in order to apply them to our programming.

I came across the recent report, “Bridging the Gap: Paving the Pathway from Current Practice to Exemplary Professional Learning,” published by the Frontline Research and Learning Institute in 2016. This report harnessed vast data from school districts and many research findings of the past decade and came out with clear definitions and measurable metrics for each term and criteria used in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law in 2015.

Here are six specific criteria of high-quality professional development for teachers:

  1. Sustained — taking place over an extended period, longer than one day or a one-time workshop.
  2. Intensive — focused on a discreet concept, practice, or program.
  3. Collaborative — involving multiple educators, coaches or set of participants grappling with the same concept or practice and in which participants work together to achieve shared understanding.
  4. Job-embedded — a part of the ongoing, regular work of instruction and related to teaching and learning taking place in real time in the teaching and learning environment.
  5. Data-driven — based on and responsive to real-time information about the needs of participants and their students.
  6. Classroom-focused — related to the practices taking place during the teaching process and relevant to the instructional process.

The evidence provided in the report is somewhat disturbing. The researchers found that “for four of the six criteria, over 80 percent of enrollments failed to meet the metric.” In other words, the report states, most professional development offered today does not meet the definition of quality.

When reading these statistics, I could not help but reflect on the quality of our TTI program. I am proud to report that our model satisfies all six criteria. To be sure, some criteria are more easily satisfied than others. However, we are making adjustments in every cycle of the program after listening to teachers and to our partners – expert economic educators. We also are getting evidence about the positive impact on learning, both by teachers and by students. I am going to explore this argument and present the evidence in my subsequent blogs. Stay tuned!


Picture: participants at AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers workshop in Boston in June 2016. Photo by Leah LaRiccia.

Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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