Evaluation of teacher professional development: A cross-project and multi-level approach

Date of Completion

January 2008


Education, Teacher Training




Evaluation of teacher professional development programs helps determine what types of professional development are making a difference to participating teachers. The characteristics of professional development programs and of their teacher participants contribute to the outcomes of professional development. It is a worthwhile challenge to develop an intimate understanding of such characteristics, which, however, have not been well examined in the existing research literature. Little empirical data have been collected to analyze the possible inter-relationships among these characteristics in their effects on program effectiveness. Even less research and/or evaluation work has been conducted across multiple professional development programs, instead of just for a single program.^ This study resulted from a two-year cross-project evaluation of teacher professional development projects funded under the Connecticut Teacher Quality Enhancement Partnership Grant Program. With approximately 500 teachers from 13 projects, a comprehensive range of responses was collected to help assess the relationship of different project and participant characteristics with teacher perceptions of project effectiveness.^ The first purpose of the study was to explore the factor structure of the instruments applied in this evaluation. The pilot data collected from the surveys designed for this evaluation were factor analyzed in order to determine the underlying factors. This provided a basis for better structured survey instruments designed to measure teacher perceptions of project effectiveness. ^ The second purpose of the study was to examine selected teacher background and project characteristics to determine their impact on teacher perceptions of project effectiveness. Two-level (teacher-level and project-level) hierarchical linear models were estimated to capture the nested nature of the data collected. The results indicated how much variance in teacher perceptions of project effectiveness was between projects, and how teacher-level and project-level variables functioned differently in predicting project effectiveness as perceived by teacher participants. The multi-level approach contributed to the future direction of research on professional development, as this methodology could be applied to other cross-project or cross-district analyses of evaluation data on professional development.^ Discussions and recommendations for future professional development evaluation and research were provided based on the findings in the study. ^