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Tennessee's 'Race to Top' Professional Development Scrutinized

The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at professional development in Tennessee provided through its federal Race to the Top grant, using the lens of a report recently released by the state's comptroller.

In a nutshell, the paper reports, the state is spending approximately $150 million out of $500 million on the training, but has few ways of tracking it to determine whether any of it is helping. And most districts aren't attempting to draw those connections.

Presumably, it's a good thing that districts are able to tailor professional development to their teachers' needs, but as this report points out, that flexibility also makes it far more difficult to evaluate the impact of the training.

A lot of the findings reflect what Education Week wrote about in this special report on professional development from two years ago: It is generally very difficult to determine what impact, if any, PD training has on teacher practice and student achievement because dollars are spent locally and even school-by school. (It's even difficult to figure out how much on average is being spent per teacher, when you start to add up all the different things that conceivably fall under the heading of professional development, such as recertification, in-service hours, master's degree compensation, and so on.)

I wonder if we'll be seeing more of these kinds of analyses as RTTT implementation continues.

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