This year many states will make dramatic cuts to their education budgets. As states and districts brace for this inevitability, I would urge that those budget cuts not come at the expense of improving teaching. Furloughing teachers on professional development days, or ridding school systems of professional development departments, instructional coaches, and other forms of support altogether, will erode the knowledge, skills, and abilities teachers need to meet students' learning needs, and, as a result, will have a dramatic negative impact on student achievement for years to come.
The United States' education policy-making counterparts in higher performing countries would never seek cost savings by reducing the support they give to their educators. They recognize that investing in people is key to getting the results they want and need
Effective professional development is the single most powerful strategy school systems have to increase teaching effectiveness. In multiple national surveys teachers tell us that they value professional development and the opportunity to collaborate, problem solve, and learn from colleagues, more than they value merit pay or other incentive strategies. Research also tells us that teacher performance is influenced by one's peers, that schools organized as professional learning communities produce better results for all students, and that job-embedded support for teachers can improve performance.
If our goal is great teaching for every child, we must use the one strategy that can ensure great practice moves from classroom to classroom and school to school. Otherwise, we will be asking ourselves once again why our student performance is not increasing.
Executive Director, Learning Forward