School Superintendents Hear from Expert on Strategies for Sustaining Instructional Improvement at National Center for Education Research & Technology Conference

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Pearson Researcher Dr. Bradley Ermeling Shares Compelling Findings on Continuous Improvement and “Learning Teams”

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School district superintendents attending the National Center for Education Research & Technology (NCERT) Conference today will hear researcher Dr. Brad Ermeling share how established routines and conditions can foster continuous improvement throughout districts and how evidence points to the “positive effects collaboration among teachers in a school can have on student achievement.”

Ermeling, a senior research associate in Pearson’s School Achievement Services group, has authored an article for the soon-to-be-released Spring Issue of the Journal of Staff Development detailing the significant learning gains schools see when educators set aside dedicated times and places for getting work done that leads to improved teaching and learning.

“The research that powers Learning Teams is about doing something ordinary – structuring and connecting meetings – in a thoughtful and systematic way to bring about real improvement. Meetings among educators need to be more than a series of announcements and disconnected discussions. To influence student learning, they need to be sustained settings for change focused on the study of teaching related to specific learning goals,” said Dr. Ermeling.

Ermeling’s article reveals that one of the key ingredients for addressing district and school needs over time is creating a “system of settings” by which all levels of educators are supported -- from classroom teachers to principals to district leaders. At each level, the teams must focus on tangible gains around a specific area of need. For instance, a first-grade language arts team might key in on helping students write multi-sentence narratives while a group of district leaders might focus on assisting principals to prepare and communicate thoughtful and instructive feedback for their team members.

The system guides collaboration efforts throughout a district to create a sustainable process for monitoring progress and promoting continuous improvement. This model, uniquely implemented by Pearson Learning Teams, is currently at work in more than 100 schools across the country, benefiting over 3,000 teachers. To further help schools achieve positive results, Learning Teams is incorporated into Pearson’s services for comprehensive school improvement and Common Core State Standards implementation.

The Learning Teams’ model is research based. In one study of the model, published in the peer-reviewed American Educational Research Journal, researchers found that achievement in Title I schools using these structured teacher learning teams rose 41 percent overall–and 54 percent for Hispanic students—relative to a comparable group of schools that that did not implement this framework.

A second study in the Elementary School Journal outlines five key elements necessary for establishing productive teacher learning teams, including: trained peer facilitators who guide their colleagues’ work over time; perseverance until there is progress on key student performance indicators; stable settings dedicated to improving instruction and learning; tested protocols that guide (but don’t prescribe) the teacher team’s improvement efforts; and job-alike teams of three-to-seven teachers who teach the same grade level, course or subject.

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kate.miller(at)pearson(dot)com – 1.800.745.8489

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