Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development

Professional development, a term that broadly encompasses professional learning for teachers, is the topic of this study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of this study on professional development for teachers is to help identify needs and opportunities for improvement. Over 1,300 participants—teachers, professional development leaders in district and state education agencies, principals, professional development providers, and thought leaders—participated in a combination of interviews and surveys. Subsequent research included a survey of 1,600 additional teachers. The study also includes analysis of existing reports and market data to identify aspects of the professional development market. The study’s key findings show that current professional development does not meet teachers’ expectations. The report concludes with a discussion on how to execute a common vision for good professional development.

Content Comments 

This report specifically focuses on teacher and administrator perceptions of professional development engagements in general. The perceptions noted do not relate specifically to assessment, curriculum, instruction, or standards. The report is of value, however, in thinking about how PD related to those topics might be most effectively delivered and received by teachers.  Its use of graphs help to communicate the findings in an easy-to-use manner, highlighting specific concerns or opinions of what is most important to improve PD experiences. While the report is largely focused on perception data, its findings align with other conclusions relative to elements needed to provide quality PD engagements.