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The Impact of Professional Development on Student Achievement

Finding the time and resources for professional development can take time and effort. However, it’s one of the most significant investments of time and money to make in education. To paraphrase an adage among educators: good teachers aren’t born; they’re developed. Ongoing PD and coaching, grounded in best practices, is part of that development.

Professional development helps educators develop their skills to make a significant impact on their students' lives. It’s an investment in teachers that gives them opportunities to continue their education and feel more confident in their abilities. In addition, with the support they receive from professional development, teachers can implement new practices to improve their teaching, which means improved student outcomes.

Good Teachers Are the Foundation of Student Achievements

While quality PD benefits educators, does it affect student achievement? According to the Rand Corporation, teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. As the most important ingredient in student success, it’s essential to provide teachers with PD opportunities that help with professional skills — subject matter expertise, classroom management, communication, organization and instructional methods.
Research shows that students with more effective teachers score better on achievement tests and graduate at higher rates. In addition, a study published by the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences concluded that student achievement can improve by as much as 21 percentile points when teachers participate in well-designed PD programs.
When teachers have the training they need, the risk of students falling behind is lower. A recent research paper found that participation in professional development by teachers and some administrators led to significant improvements in student test scores, especially in math.

How Professional Development Affects Student Outcomes

Education doesn’t stop once a teacher earns their degree; it’s a never-ending process. In addition, changing district guidelines, curriculum standards and evolving technology make staying current challenging. Professional development helps teachers become more proficient. 

Three Ways Professional Development Helps Students


Teachers Learn Better Ways to Teach

Quality PD helps teachers develop new insights into teaching methods. It enables teachers to be more efficient and effective by exposing them to new techniques for delivering information and changing their teaching style and curricula to accommodate the needs of their students.

Teachers Gain Additional Knowledge and Industry Insight

Students expect teachers to be subject matter experts and answer questions effectively. A good quality professional development program enables teachers to expand their knowledge base in different subject areas.

Teachers Develop Better Organization and Planning Skills

Teachers are responsible for multiple tasks beyond the classroom. Student evaluations, curriculum development, lesson planning and other paperwork take considerable time. Training provided by PD can help teachers improve their organizational and time management skills. As a result, they are more efficient and gain additional time for students.

Delivering High-Quality PD


Not all professional development programs are created equally. NMSI’s PD programs elevates teachers with practical strategies they can implement into their classrooms immediately. Trainings are delivered by NMSI coaches, who are all active or retired teachers, and they actively support teachers throughout the year.  
The collaborative nature of NMSI programs keeps teachers engaged and encourages them to participate rather than attend a lecture. This hands-on and peer-to-peer approach empowers teachers at all levels. The success story of Pittsburgh Public Schools is one example of NMSI’s impact. Although the case study addresses Advanced Placement training and resources, the supports also apply to non-AP teachers.

Professional Development Is a Powerful Tool for Student Success

Professional development in education is essential because what teachers do in the classroom greatly impacts student learning. Access to continuous learning opportunities and professional development resources improves teacher efficacy.
The National Math and Science Initiative offers programs and resources to help empower teachers and build strong communities of educators who work together, practice together and reflect on their teaching and the needs of their students. Partner with NMSI today for great educational resources.