Job-Embedded Professional Development—Teachers Need Time to Learn From Each Other

Education Indicators

Jill Barshay for the Hechinger Report echoes the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual report of education indicators, released last week, that compares education spending in countries around the world. The United States has been cutting its funding and other countries are increasing their funding.

U.S. spending on elementary and high school education declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2014 even as its economy prospered and its student population grew slightly by 1 percent, boiling down to a 4 percent decrease in spending per student. 

Over this same 2010 to 2014 period, education spending, on average, rose 5 percent per student across the 35 countries in the OECD. In some countries it rose at a much higher rate. For example, between 2008 and 2014, education spending rose 76 percent in Turkey, 36 percent in Israel, 32 percent in the United Kingdom and 27 percent in Portugal. For some countries, it’s been a difficult financial sacrifice as their economies stalled after the 2008 financial crisis. To boost education budgets, other areas were slashed. Meanwhile, U.S. local, state and federal governments chose to cut funding for the schoolhouse (Hechinger Report).

Professional Development is the Key

Ms. Barshay for the Hechinger Report  points out that the increase in education budgets in those countries can be partly explained by examining the emphasis of where the money is spent. For example, in many other countries, the emphasis is to support teacher learning such that teachers get much more professional development than teachers get in the United States. While the emphasis in the United States has been smaller class sizes and the hiring of more teachers to reduce class size.

Change our Emphasis

Although small class size helps students feel personally responsible for their education and keeps students from falling through the cracks, I would argue that the level of teacher quality is the most important factor in students taking responsibility for their education and succeeding in education and life. In other countries teachers teach less and learn more. We can take a page out of their book by adding this feature to our country’s education budget and increasing professional development and decreasing the number of classes or the number of students taught in the United States.

Job-Embedded Professional Development

We learned in our research that job-embedded professional development was the most important way teachers learn and the policy implication is that teachers need time to learn from each other. This time should be built into the day, and the number of students taught should be reduced.


Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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