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How Does Professional Development Impact Student Learning Outcomes?

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One of the beauties of teaching is that there is no limit to one’s growth as a teacher, just as there is no knowing beforehand how much your students can learn. ~ Herbert R. Kohl

Every good educator knows that teaching is a two-way street. Students give as much to teachers as teachers give to students. Yet for all that, it is common for school districts to focus on student learning outcomes as the barometer of success for teachers. Since student outcomes are usually the priority of parents, too, it stands to reason that district and school leaders would prioritize the effects that professional development has on students.

At Alludo, we specialize in developing effective professional development for teachers that can be tied to school and district goals, track their performance and improvement, and give them a choice and a voice in what they learn. So, how does professional development impact student learning outcomes? Here’s what you need to know.

Table of Contents

  1. How Does Professional Development Improve Teaching?
  2. How Does Professional Learning for Teachers Affect Students?
  3. How Can School Districts Measure the Impact of Professional Development?
  4. What Are Some Ways That Professional Development for Teachers Impacts Student Learning Outcomes?
  5. Alludo’s Take

How Does Professional Development Improve Teaching?

The impact of professional development on teaching manifests itself in ways that are both tangible and intangible. It’s essential to understand what these impacts are in order to design a professional learning program that gets results.

Arguably the most obvious way that professional development for teachers affects teachers’ performance in the classroom is that it provides them with new information, techniques, tools, and instructional strategies that they can use to connect with and engage their students. 

School districts can use professional learning to get teachers on board with district-wide goals. A good example is the Oxnard Union High School District, which offers intensive career and college readiness programs to students. Since many of the courses students can take using their academy model are technology-forward, the district needed a professional development platform that would enable teachers to learn the technologies they would be teaching students as well as new educational technology to use in the classroom.

The result was that more than 170 teachers participated during the initial rollout of Oxnard Union Express. As of this writing, there are over 850 educators using Oxnard Union Express and the district has licensed Alludo for their students as well. The district has seen improvements in teacher collaboration. Allison Holicky, a teacher at Pacifica High School, said this about the program:

“Participating in OU Express has made me a better teacher. It puts professional development right in my hands, without having to give up hours after school or on the weekend, or having to spend time trying to figure out where to get the funding to attend.”

PD Improves Teaching

In terms of intangible benefits, there is ample evidence that a robust system of personal development can help to prevent teacher burnout and reduce turnover in school districts. Teachers need to be challenged and supported if they are to do their best work. Professional learning keeps them engaged with their jobs and fosters a cycle of continual improvement.

Teachers want to do a good job in the classroom. They want to feel that they are connecting with their students and getting them to positive outcomes. Effective professional development gives them the tools and feedback they need to excel in their jobs.

Teacher Happiness Report

How Does Professional Learning for Teachers Affect Students?

What is the impact of professional development for teachers on student performance? It turns out that when professional development is well-designed and relevant to the subject matter students are learning, it makes a significant positive impact.

There are many studies that identify factors that impact student learning. In 2017, a study published in the Journal of Teacher Education looked at the impact of teacher participation in a mathematics specialist program called Primarily Math. It found that participation in the program led to better teacher performance and had a positive impact on student outcomes when learning math.

A 2021 study published in Teaching and Teacher Education evaluated student results in mathematics, science, and reading after teachers participated in pedagogy-focused professional development. The study concluded that students whose teachers participated in PD experienced a 25% improvement in math scores. The results were less conclusive in reading and science, but the researchers noted that might be because fewer hours per week were dedicated to instruction in those subjects.

Finally, a study from 2021 published in the Journal of School Psychology looked at the impact of teacher professional development on students and teachers in inner city schools. The researchers found that teachers who participated gave students more support both academically and emotionally. Teachers who participated were also more likely to use evidence-based practices in the classroom. Students whose teachers participated were more engaged and experienced significant improvements in academic functioning and outcomes.

The takeaway here is that when teachers are given ongoing, effective professional development that’s relevant to their work in the classroom, they acquire new skills that help them do a better job of engaging students and getting them to the positive outcomes they deserve.

Measure PD Effectiveness

How Can School Districts Measure the Impact of Professional Development?

Measuring the impact of professional development can be a challenge, especially when teachers are attending a variety of classes and programs. By designing a district-wide system that encourages teacher participation and provides relevant training, district and school leaders can measure results in ways that help them to reallocate resources when needed and link student performance to professional development for teachers.

The key to measuring impact is having the tools to do it quickly and easily. Since no two school districts are alike, administrators need the ability to slice and dice data in any way they choose. With Alludo, you can do exactly that.

The Alludo platform harnesses the power of gamification to drive teacher participation and engagement. You can measure multiple metrics, including the following:

  • Number of learners engaged
  • Number of micro-learning activities completed
  • Total hours of professional development completed
  • Number of learning missions completed
  • Total levels of learning completed

We make it easy to calculate your ROI and measure both teacher and student outcomes related to professional development.

What Are Some Ways That Professional Development for Teachers Impacts Student Learning Outcomes?

There are many ways that professional development can impact a student learning outcomes. The first is that engaged teachers are more likely to have engaged students. Since we know that professional learning can help to prevent teacher burnout, it stands to reason that it will also help to excite and engage students in the classroom.

Teacher professional development also translates into student understanding of subject matter. When teachers engage in professional learning on the subject matter and curriculum they teach, it provides them with new skills and knowledge to help them explain complex concepts and ideas to students. As we noted above, math students whose teachers participated in math-related professional development performed better on both classroom and standardized tests than those whose teachers did not receive that instruction.

We know that no two students are exactly alike in their learning styles and preferences. When teachers participate in effective professional development that helps them understand how students learn, they can then translate that knowledge into the classroom. There’s less risk of students falling through the cracks when teachers have the training they need to meet students where they are and help them get to where they need to be.

The bottom line is that professional development for teachers helps district and school administrators, teachers, and students at multiple levels and in a variety of ways.

Measure PD Effectiveness

Alludo’s Take

Teachers are some of the most passionate people in the world. Their love of learning – and their desire to help children learn – sets them apart. They are often underappreciated for the hard work they do and we believe that they deserve the best professional development program available.

Alludo works directly with school districts to create and deliver an engaging and dynamic online learning environment for faculty and staff professional development opportunities. We have incorporated gamification into our system because there’s evidence that learners are more engaged and more likely to participate when learning is fun, interactive, and measurable. 

With Alludo, school districts can use our selection of vetted curricula and build on them to accommodate state and district requirements. They can specify which modules they will require for learners and allow them to choose their own courses to make up the remaining points needed. At the same time, learners earn points, badges, and rewards.

School districts can best improve student outcomes by providing teachers with a robust professional learning environment that fosters collaboration and healthy competition while giving them relevant strategies and tools to use in the classroom.

Get to Better Student Outcomes with Engaging Professional Learning for Teachers

When districts and schools measure their success, they almost always do it by tracking student learning outcomes and measuring progress. That’s one reason most states require standardized testing for students: they offer an easy way to track student achievement and see what effect professional development has on it.

With Alludo, school districts can see beyond standardized test scores and measure the ROI of teacher professional development in areas as diverse as teacher turnover and student engagement. 

Are you ready to get to more positive student learning outcomes through professional development for teachers? Alludo can help you design and roll out the right program for your district. Click here to schedule a demo of our platform today!