Federal education officials are ratcheting up the stakes for teacher professional development. In a pilot project that began last fall, officials hope to learn whether software can be used to track and analyze the effectiveness of a district's staff training programs in much the same way it can be used to gauge the effectiveness of classroom instruction.

The three-year project, made possible through a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), aims to create a decision support tool that will enable educators to track and manage professional development, report on data from...

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