Report : Math PD improves teacher knowledge but not student achievement. So is this useful?

October 6, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

The US Department of Education has released report titled Focusing on Mathematical Knowledge: The Impact of Content-Intensive Teacher Professional Development (September 2016).

Here are some selections  from the Executive Summary, page ES-1: 

“Elementary school teachers may especially benefit from content-focused PD because they are less likely to formally study math in college than secondary teachers, who tend to specialize in the subject matter they teach.

Grade 4 teachers from 94 schools in six districts and five states participated in the study and were randomly assigned within schools to either a treatment group that received the study PD or a control group that did not receive the study PD. The key findings on the impact of the study PD on teacher knowledge, practice, and student achievement include:

  1. The PD had a positive impact on teacher knowledge.
  2. The PD had a positive impact on some aspects of instructional practice, particularly Richness of Mathematics.
  3. Despite the PD’s generally positive impact on teacher outcomes, the PD did not have a positive impact on student achievement.”

From page 45: “To summarize, future research might focus on identifying PD that will impact these knowledge and practice outcomes to a larger degree. Future research might also seek to identify other aspects of knowledge and practice to target with PD that are more strongly related to improved student achievement. ”

Me: Maybe this just demonstrates the complexity of improving math achievement.


Garet, M. S., Heppen, J. B., Walters, K., Parkinson, J., Smith, T. M., Song, M., Garrett, R., Yang, R., & Borman, G. D. (2016). Focusing on mathematical knowledge: The impact of content-intensive teacher professional development (NCEE 2016-4010). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

This report is available on the IES website at

Entry filed under: Education Research. Tags: , .

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