The Science of Professional Development

Publisher: Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37 (3)
Page Numbers: 248-255

This commentary discusses the science of professional development. A great deal is already known about how to provide professional development that supports teachers’ implementation of evidence-based practices and the factors that enhance or inhibit teachers’ sustained use of the practices. The author summarizes the work of researchers who have achieved some success in facilitating teachers’ learning of new practices, highlighting my own research with colleagues. Professional development is known to be most successful when (a) researchers work closely with school districts, so that everyone is on the same page, and the practices that researchers are teaching are aligned with the district’s curriculum and standards; (b) student outcome data showing that the practice works are provided to all; (c) administrative support is clearly evident; (d) long-term support is provided for teachers (including demonstrations and coaching); and (e) teachers take ownership of the practices and responsibility for mentoring their peers.