Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of Math Professional Development Approaches. REL 2014-010Report as inadecuate

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Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast

This study used a systematic process modeled after the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) study review process to answer the question: What does the causal research say are effective math professional development interventions for K-12 teachers aimed at improving student achievement? The study identified and screened 910 research studies in a comprehensive literature search for effectiveness studies of math professional development approaches. (See appendix A for details of the search, screening, andreview process.) Of these 910 studies, 643 examined professional development approaches related to math in grades K-12 and were conducted in the United States. Of the 643 studies, 32 focused primarily on math professional development provided to teachers and used a research design for examining effectiveness (see appendix B for a list of the 32 studies). Five of those were determined to have met WWC evidence standards (version 2.1) either with or without reservations (appendix C). And of those five, only two found positive effects on students' math proficiency. Thus, there is very limited causal evidence to guide districts and schools in selecting a math professional development approach or to support developers' claims about their approaches. The limited research on effectiveness means that schools and districts cannot use evidence of effectiveness alone to narrow their choice. Instead, they must use their best judgment until more causal evidence becomes available. (Contains 6 notes, 6 tables, and 1 figure.)

Descriptors: Elementary School Teachers, Secondary School Teachers, Professional Development, Mathematics Instruction, Mathematics Teachers, Mathematics Achievement, Teacher Competencies, Teacher Improvement, Program Effectiveness, Workshops, Correlation, Achievement Gains, Mathematics Skills, Summer Programs, Mathematical Concepts, Communities of Practice, Mathematical Logic, Thinking Skills, Knowledge Base for Teaching, Literature Reviews, Coaching (Performance)

Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast. Available from: Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University, 2010 Levy Avenue Suite 100, Tallahassee, FL 32310. Tel: 850-644-9352; e-mail: rel-se[at]; Web site:

Author: Gersten, Russell; Taylor, Mary Jo; Keys, Tran D.; Rolfhus, Eric; Newman-Gonchar, Rebecca


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