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When it Comes to Professional Development for Teachers, Conducting Research is Key
posted by: Cindy Omlin | December 02, 2011, 02:26 PM   

Graham's suggestions of checking prices and reading advertisements carefully not only apply to electronics, apparel, furniture, or whatever else shoppers have their hearts set on at this time of year—they are also wise considerations prior to investing in a teacher training program.

Checking Prices

Professional development by its very nature can be quite costly, but for teachers the costs are often much higher. Lessons, manuals, assessments, lab equipment, and support can place a burden on a school district that is already struggling financially. This is why it's important to assess the prices of several different teacher training companies before choosing one.

While checking prices, explore professional development opportunities offered by nonprofit organizations, such as Laying the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that has trained more than 36,000 teachers to date. Choosing a nonprofit to deliver teacher training and to provide the accompanying materials and resources can translate into major savings. In many cases, grant awards nonprofit organizations receive cover the cost of teacher training, and the primary requirements on behalf of the schools and teachers are providing space, setting aside time for the workshop or seminar, and filling sessions. Even without a grant award, the cost of teacher training by a nonprofit is often considerably lower than the cost of teacher training by a for-profit company.

Reading Advertisements Carefully

Obviously, price checking is only one factor necessary for making an educated decision about professional development. Consumers (i.e., the teachers and school districts) must examine professional development companies' advertisements as well. Claims that a company makes about the effectiveness of its teacher training should be supported by a comprehensive body of data.

Search for case studies or videos like the ones that Laying the Foundation—a company comprised of dedicated former and current teachers—recently published about its impact on Ruston High School in northern Louisiana. According to the research, since implementing LTF strategies, the percent of Ruston High School students making qualifying scores on AP exams increased from 33.3 percent in 2008 to 85.1 percent in 2011. Additionally, the Ruston High School graduation rate soared as did its Louisiana School Performance Score. Testimonials and anecdotes by participants in the professional development program in question are helpful too. As 2012 Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year Emily Howell commented about Laying the Foundation, "Laying the Foundation is why I'm successful as a teacher ... It has totally changed my career as a teacher."

As with any product research, investigating the right teacher training company takes time and patience, but the effort is well worth it—worth it for the school district, the teachers, and most important, for the students.

To learn more about Laying the Foundation, visit
Originally posted by Jill at AAE.
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