Reimagining State Support for Professional Learning
About the Research
Within the professional learning research strand, TERA will seek to better understand the professional learning experiences of teachers across Tennessee, and which experiences are most likely to lead to better instruction and student learning.
Using data from the Tennessee Educator Survey, this brief examines teachers' overall experiences with professional learning and whether teachers across the state have access to regular and helpful professional learning opportunities. Findings suggest that although teachers frequently engage in professional learning, they may not always be investing time in professional learning activities that they consider helpful in making instructional decisions.
TERA's flagship brief on teacher improvement in Tennessee examines 10 years of educator data to understand how individual teachers improve over the course of their careers. Extending previous research in this area, results show that, on average, teachers in Tennessee continue to develop throughout their careers and perhaps more rapidly in recent years. These patterns suggest important policy implications for teacher development and effectiveness in Tennessee.
TERA convened a gathering of researchers and practitioners to shape the organization’s research agenda on professional learning. This document outlines the research questions that came from this meeting. Participants highlighted coherence, effective feedback, time use, access to professional learning opportunities, and teacher self-assessment as areas of professional learning that require further study.
Professional learning has emerged as a critical component in the Tennessee Department of Education’s strategy in meeting its ambitious educational goals. Scaling up effective professional learning throughout the state requires a systemic approach that transforms the way professionals think and go about their work. A productive professional environment with meaningful, instruction-driven professional development can improve teacher practice and student outcomes. This brief outlines current knowledge on professional learning and serves as a starting point in TERA's work on the topic.