WASHINGTON, DC—January 26, 2010—Teachers achieve better results for their students when they work together in learning teams to identify student problems and develop instructional solutions, according to a new study published in The American Educational Research Journal (AERJ). The model tested by the researchers in the study has been implemented by Pearson Learning Teams at more than 175 schools across the US.
In a five-year study of 15 Title I schools serving 14,000 students, researchers William M. Saunders, Claude N. Goldenberg and Ronald Gallimore found that student achievement rose by 41 percent—and a whopping 58 percent for English learners—after schools converted routine meetings into teacher learning teams that focused on what students were struggling to learn. Comparable schools using reform strategies that made no changes in grade-level meetings saw no achievement gains. In addition, the dramatic gains in standardized scores for schools using learning teams required only two to three hours of instructor meeting time a month, with administrators and teacher leaders meeting an additional two hours each month.
The study, “Increasing Achievement by Focusing Grade Level Teams on Improving Classroom Learning: A Prospective, Quasi-experimental Study of Title 1 Schools,” is available at http://aer.sagepub.com/cgi/content/full/46/4/1006?ijkey=5pUTARD99.Mlc&keytype=ref&siteid=spaer. The AERJ is a publication of original empirical and theoretical studies and analyses in education.
“The AERJ study provides independent, research-based evidence that our Pearson Learning Teams model leads to significant gains in student performance,” said Beth Wray, President of Pearson Learning Teams. “For school administrators, these results are especially meaningful as the Race to the Top education reform efforts are focusing increased attention and funding toward teaching effectiveness and strategies that improve student performance.”
Wray also noted, “As in the AERJ study, teachers in schools using Pearson Learning Teams meet regularly to analyze assessment results and discuss student learning problems. Then, as a team, they develop possible solutions which the teachers try out in their individual classrooms. If a solution works, the team moves on to a new student learning problem. If the solution doesn’t work, the teachers go back to work as a team until they find a solution that does work, as measured by ongoing assessment of student data.”
According to Dr. Brad Ermeling, Senior Director for Pearson Learning Teams, “An important feature of the model used in the AERJ study was direct and ongoing school-level training and assistance provided to administrators and teacher leaders. Pearson Learning Teams provides the same design for school-site assistance which distinguishes our approach from others. Another critical distinction is our use of the same AERJ study protocols derived and tested over decades. These protocols provide structure and continuity for sustaining continuous improvement and data-driven decision making.”
The AERJ study is noteworthy because all of the schools in the study were challenged by a history of low achievement, large numbers of English learners and a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch aid. Previous demonstrations of a team approach were often in suburban communities serving more affluent populations and were primarily single-school case studies.
Also in contrast to previous research, the AERJ study began investigating schools before they launched learning teams. At the study launch, all of the schools were scoring well below district averages on standardized tests. After the program was fully implemented, schools using learning teams saw dramatic gains in student achievement. By the end of the study, the learning teams schools had exceeded the gains made by the district as a whole, which included many historically high-performing schools in more affluent neighborhoods.
The teacher teams in the study were guided in each school by an instructional leadership team made up of teacher representatives from each grade level, a reading coach, the school principal and a researcher.
“Although the idea of teachers teaming up to improve student learning dates to the 1970s, there has been limited research on the benefits of this approach,” said study co-author Dr. Ronald Gallimore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UCLA and a senior research consultant to Pearson. “Our study may be the first to use a rigorous research design to evaluate the benefits of teacher learning teams.”
In addition, although the AERJ study included only elementary schools, the approach has been used in secondary schools that turn large department meetings into smaller, content-focused teams, according to Dr. Ermeling.
Pearson is the only education company that offers districts a scientifically-based teacher professional development program based on decades of research. Almost 4,000 teachers at 175 schools across the US are using Pearson Learning Teams to improve instruction and student achievement. For example, in a spontaneous expression of support, more than 40 teachers in one large public school district wrote to their superintendent, saying that Pearson Learning Teams is the best professional development they’ve ever had and asked that the programs be continued despite a severe budget crisis.
Pearson has global-reach and market leading businesses in education, business information, and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO).
Media Contact: Susan Aspey, Susan.firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 745-8489
About Pearson’s Teacher Education & Development Group
Pearson Learning Teams is part of Pearson’s Teacher Education and Development Group, the only business in the education industry that is completely dedicated to supporting the education and professional development of teachers from preparation through practice, with content and services that represent the research and knowledge of America’s leading education researchers. Respected imprints and programs, including Allyn & Bacon, Merrill and MyEducationLab, provide today’s students who will be tomorrow’s teachers with powerful insights and applications into how real-world classrooms work. Six out of ten teachers in the United States used Pearson content and services in their teacher preparation programs, including customized solutions for alternative certification along with graduate degree program offerings. Practicing teachers also benefit from evidence-based professional development programs in mathematics, literacy, RTI and for English learners that help improve the academic achievement of diverse student populations, including the recently acquired A+RISE business. In addition to the research-based Learning Teams, Pearson’s SIOP® Model offers a specific, proven pedagogical approach to teaching both content knowledge and language skills, and has helped instruct millions of students in the United States. For more information, visit www.pearsoned.com or www.pearsonlt.com.