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Study Finds Teacher Professional Development to be a Strong Lever to Improve Reading Achievement

Pajaro Valley Unified School District (CA) students whose teachers participated in training and instructional coaching provided by CORE achieved greater growth in their reading skills.

Many factors contribute to student achievement but research conducted by SEG Measurement, an education research, evaluation, and assessment firm, has found that professional development provided by CORE moves the needle on student achievement. A study of third grade reading performance in Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) conducted in January 2020 and recently peer-reviewed for presentation at AACE’s Innovate Learning 2020 Summit found that students in classrooms with teachers who participated in CORE professional development showed statistically significant growth in their reading skills in comparison to students in classrooms whose teachers did not receive training and coaching from CORE. 

Since the 2016–17 school year, CORE has provided professional development and technical assistance to elementary teachers and administrators in PVUSD to help implement, in addition to their broader English Language Arts instruction, the Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight words (SIPPS) reading foundational skills program. “We weren’t using SIPPS to fidelity,” Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent at PVUSD, says. “Specifically, teachers weren’t given the instruction or training to implement it well.” CORE began working closely with classroom teachers and instructional coaches, providing training and instructional coaching within the context of the SIPPS curriculum and their own classrooms. 

SEG Measurement looked at the reading performance of 364 PVUSD third grade students. 182 students were in a treatment group whose teachers participated in CORE professional development during the 2017–18 school year. These 182 students were matched based on multiple characteristics to an additional 182 students to create a control group. Students in classes with teachers participating in CORE professional learning showed 18% growth in reading skills, while the control group showed 14% growth over the course of the school year. This is an effect size for CORE professional development of .17, or about a fifth of a standard deviation. 

PVUSD Third Grade Reading Scores

Studies of first and second grade reading performance were also conducted by SEG Measurement using the same methodology. These studies found similar growth in reading skills by students whose teachers participated in professional learning with CORE. All three studies were designed to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidance for Moderate Evidence (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

Review the study methodology and results.  

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