Talk Data to Me: Professional Development Activity Trends
By analyzing professional development program data, school districts can identify specific trends and patterns in teacher performance and growth. This enables district leaders to adapt their programs and strategies to meet emerging challenges and leverage opportunities for growth. Ultimately, continuous improvement based on data analysis ensures that your professional development program remains relevant and aligned with the evolving needs of both teachers and students.
Over the past few years, COVID threw a lot on teachers’ plates and necessitated rapid and substantial changes in professional development. With the closure of schools and the need for social distancing, in-person workshops and conferences were largely replaced by online platforms. Teachers had to adapt to virtual environments and software, like Google Classroom and Zoom, and completely rewrite curricula for online delivery. Essentially, they had to use different pedagogies to maximize the efficacy of online learning.
These new skill needs are reflected in national data trends. The following chart shows the number of professional development activities per instructional user being completed each month.
The key takeaways
There are spikes all throughout 2020 and the number of activities being completed per user in typical years is about two per month.
In a handful of months after COVID, the average user was completing 3 to 4 activities per month.
The trend in the number of activities being completed evened out in 2021, 2022, and so far in 2023.
Professional Development Hours Completed
While the pandemic has presented numerous challenges, it has also sparked innovation and transformation in the realm of professional development for teachers. The integration of technology, increased accessibility, and emphasis on remote teaching skills have created new opportunities for teachers to grow and adapt to the changing educational landscape.
To fully leverage these new opportunities, districts should consider shifting to an ongoing, individualized professional development program as opposed to frontloading professional development early in the year. Consistent PD tends to be timelier and more relevant to what teachers may be facing in that moment and may also make teachers feel like they are continually learning and growing. Another benefit of making the switch to ongoing PD is increased retention, maximized classroom abilities, and minimized hiring needs.
Let’s take a look at the average number of hours of activities completed per user over time.
The key takeaways
The trends in the hours of activities being completed didn’t change all that much even during COVID. However, users were opting for quicker learning opportunities. Why? Educators were probably trying to learn a little bit about a lot of different topics as quickly as possible.
Analyzing Professional Development in Your District
The data listed above is a nationally representative data set of over 800 districts. However, your district may differ and the only way to know for sure is to analyze your own professional development data. The good news? Human Capital Analytics software can help make the process a lot simpler.
Here’s a quick example of the personalized views you can access with this type of system:
Your district’s unique professional development data is on full display. It is interactive and filterable for a variety of data points including professional development formats programs, time of year length of activity credits awarded for activity completion, even expense information associated with individual activities and users.
5 Tips for Looking Ahead to Next Year’s PD: Summer is the perfect time to reflect on what went well (and what didn’t) with your professional development program over the last school year. Get 5 tips for evaluating your PD to empower your team’s growth.
Effective Professional Learning Strategies (That Actually Work): Professional development requires more than one-stop workshops, classroom observations, or offering feedback forms. It must be intentional. The recipe for true growth begins with an individualized learning process — one that gives educators a voice and choice, identifies strengths and areas for improvement, and promotes a collaborative learning culture.
Kevin is a Product Manager of Human Capital Analytics for Frontline Education. He is a former high school mathematics teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction, a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and is working on a dissertation toward a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.