Wednesday, April 12, 2017
K–3 Early Literacy Professional Development Initiative
A statewide early literacy professional development initiative appears to have helped improve teacher instruction and competencies and student engagement, according to a new study from Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast.
In January 2014, the Mississippi Department of Education began providing statewide early literacy professional development to K–3 educators through online modules and face-to-face workshops. The Department also began providing literacy coaches to target schools identified as being most in need.
The study examined changes in teacher knowledge of early literacy skills and ratings of quality of early literacy skills instruction, student engagement during early literacy skills instruction, and teaching competencies between winter 2014 and fall 2015. During the time frame examined, the Mississippi Department of Education began providing early literacy professional development to K–3 teachers through a series of online and face-to-face workshops.
Over the course of the study, average teacher knowledge started in the 48th percentile and ended in the 59th percentile. In targeted high-need schools, during observations conducted by state literacy coaches, ratings of quality increased from the 31st percentile to the 58th percentile, student engagement increased from the 37th percentile to the 53rd percentile, and teaching competencies increased from the 30th percentile to the 44th percentile.
While this study was not intended to determine if the professional development was effective or caused the observed changes, the changes appeared to be associated with teachers’ participation in the professional development. At the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 54th percentile for teacher knowledge, and teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 65th percentile. Similarly, at the end of the study, teachers who had not yet started the professional development were in the 42nd percentile for quality, 39th for engagement, and 38th for teaching competencies, where as teachers who had completed the professional development were in the 59th percentile for quality, 53rd for engagement, and 54th for teaching competencies.
So over the two school years examined, teacher knowledge of early literacy skills and ratings of quality of instruction, student engagement during early literacy skills instruction, and teaching competencies increased as the professional development program was rolled out. Increases appeared to be associated with teachers’ progress in the program.
The report also provides two tools—the Teacher Knowledge of Early Literacy Skills survey and the Coach’s Classroom Observation Tool—that may be useful for staff development practitioners in other states and researchers in future studies.