In the last blog I responded to reading Advancing Formative Assessment In Every Classroom by Moss and Brookhart and noted the issue of teachers and students flying blind and working in the dark without clear learning goals that can be used to self assess and regulate learning. (pg 9)
Reading further highlighted that a similar sense of working in the dark occurs for many teachers working on their IPDPs.
On a positive note, many programs calling for teacher growth plans require a focus on student achievement. In other words, student learning needs drive teachers’ continued learning as illustrated in Florida’s 2009 statue:
1012.98 School Community Professional Development Act-
5. Require each school principal to establish and maintain an individual professional development plan for each instructional employee assigned to the school as a seamless component to the school improvement plans developed pursuant to s. 1001.42(18). The individual professional development plan must:
a. Be related to specific performance data for the students to whom the teacher is assigned.
b. Define the inservice objectives and specific measurable improvements expected in student performance as a result of the inservice activity.
c. Include an evaluation component that determines the effectiveness of the professional development plan.
But as I reviewed additional plans, (see Livingston, KY)
I discovered little or no focus on the skill development sequence that leads to the teacher learning (change in practice) that precedes the payoff of increased student achievement. How would a teacher know if they are progressing toward their desired learning goal prior to the student learning goal?
Further, the focus on a measurable student improvement could cause teachers to look for shortcuts to “scores”, such as what has occurred in Florida writing exams:
Writing exams from 49 schools were found to have “template writing” — instances in which students from the same school used identical or similar phrases on FCAT essays, such as “Poof! Now I’m in dragon land.” The patterns were discovered when the exams were scored.1
Teacher’s IPDPs should identify the changes that will occur in teacher practice over time, the changes that will occur in student work or practice over time, and then the change in student achievement.
Coaches and administrators who engage teachers in deep, rich conversations around IPDPs, establish clear indicators of the teacher’s learning progress and provide ongoing feedback on progress model the goal setting and formative assessment we want teachers to use with their students.
1 Orlando Sentinel article- July 18, 2009 by Leslie Postal