Drs. Monet and Kotar present at Carnegie Foundation Summit, 2015

2-4 March 2015 - Drs. Monet and Kotar presented a poster entitled "Effectiveness of Teacher-Selected Professional Learning on School Change and Student Learning Through Action Research" at the Canegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education which took place during the first week of March in San Francisco. The Carnegie Summit is a annual conference for educators and administrators at the forefront of the educational improvement community. Their poster reports on research findings from Cohorts I and II. 


An Improving Teacher Quality project funded 56 collaborating teams (218 teachers) 2 - 3 years.  Teams applied an action research (AR) model to assess student needs, identify and select professional learning, and develop, implement, and evaluate interventions.  This presentation describes the AR model, a rubric-based AR assessment process, and results of assessing action research to show the connection between student outcomes and the effectiveness of professional learning.  The AR model and assessment process can be used to improve student learning and determine next steps for teacher learning. Discussion will include steps to achieve sustainability of teacher driven professional learning.

Teacher professional development is effective if the learning that teachers experience results in changes that improve student outcomes.  An Improving Teacher Quality project distributed funds to teams of teachers through competitive grants.  Fifty-six teams were funded for two - three year projects.  This study drew data from 218 teachers who completed projects.  Teams followed an action research (AR) model to assess student needs, identify and select teacher learning to address needs, and developed interventions.  The AR model also guided implementing and measuring effectiveness of interventions.  About 16,000 students were affected.  This presentation describes the AR model and the rubric-based process for assessing action research.  Results of the analysis of teacher team AR reports applying the assessment process demonstrate the connection between student outcomes and the effectiveness of professional learning.

Continuous improvement in education requires professional development.  This study promoted evidence-based decision making by teachers.  Research has shown that teacher-selected professional learning increased teacher self-efficacy, as well as perceptions of empowerment (Kotar & Monet, 2014).  Our current research goes beyond surveys and interviews to evaluate professional learning (Hill, Beisiegel, & Jacob, 2014) in an attempt to connect student outcomes to interventions based on the learning experiences of teachers.  

A rubric-based assessment process was developed to analyze the AR reports produced by teacher teams.  Results show the connection between teacher developed interventions and student outcomes.  We concluded that this process can be applied by educators to understand what works to improve student learning and success, and thereby indicate effectiveness of professional learning.  The AR model and the assessment process can also help determine next steps for teacher professional learning.

The evidence-based continuous improvement model was made more practical to implement with clearly defined steps and effective tools. To make the model sustainable over time, and scalable within schools and districts we used several forms of data to find and address deficiencies and improve the model. For example, the Action Research Model is the result of numerous adjustments to contextualize action research processes to real school settings. Principals were added to Cohort 3 teams and opened access to more resources and knowledge.Tools were refined to be more effective.

Successful application of the evidence-based continuous improvement model is enhanced through specific tools (see Action Research Model) and conditions.
Necessary conditions include:

  • Respect for teacher decision-making by school administration.

  • Time, dedicated and supported, for adult learning and collaboration to occur.

  • A supportive school principal.

  • Technical Assistance and information, primarily for data collection and evaluating interventions.

Next Steps

Participation by teachers in Teachers’ PL-INC has resulted in numerous examples of positive change for K-12 students. We fully expect that the improvements implemented for Cohort 3 will provide for more positive changes. However, future research is needed to implement the model in its entirety as a system with structure and tools for continuous improvement. 


Hill, H. C., Beisiegel, M., & Jacob, R. (2014). Professional development research: Consensus, crossroads, and challenges. Educational Researcher, 42:9, DOI 10.3102/0013189X13512674. 

Kotar, M. and Monet, J. (2014). Teacher-driven professional development through the lens of participant action research. , UCLA Center X. http://centerx.gseis.ucla.edu/xchange-repository/teacher-collaborative-inquiry/xpress/xpress-page#teacher-driven