Recently a national nonprofit education organization known as The New Teacher Project (TNTP) conducted a survey on the effectiveness of teacher development training.
The conclusion? It is generally an expensive waste of time, with few measurable changes in teacher performance.
Surry County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jill Reinhardt disagrees.
The TNTP study examined three public school districts and one network of charter schools, all of which were unnamed. The research found that traditional districts spend on average $18,000 per teacher per year on development.
The return on the investment in those schools districts seemed feeble, showing that only a minority of teachers demonstrated improvement from the developmental courses.
The Surry County school district prides itself on the support it provides the staff, according to Reinhardt.
“Teacher development is successful because we follow up with our teachers afterwards,” said Reinhardt.
County schools also provide 29 peer teacher/coaches to different schools based on grade level or content area. Those 29 coaches are given a small stipend in addition to their salary to collect data and evaluate their assigned teachers.
Test data, principal observations and evaluations made from classroom walk-throughs all help to determine what each teacher and school need to work on and what local requirements are to be made by principals and the school board to help strengthen the weaknesses within the school system.
“We work with each teacher to develop a personal development plan and then we provide follow up and support.” Reinhardt explained that each teacher is required within the county school system to complete requirements they feel make their curriculum better as a whole within the first three years of employment with the schools, a total of 200 hours in training.
Reinhardt explained that while it is teacher’s responsibility to continue and maintain the hours of training to meet requirements to be licensed at the state level, the county schools delivers that training internally.
“We work hard to customize our professional development based on our teachers needs, we believe we stand out from other districts in the state because we provide that support from the district level and our core teachers. It’s one of the reasons teachers seek employment with us and stay,” said Reinhardt.