Last week, Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning, released a report on the impact of two professional development programs, Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) and MyTeachingPartner (MTP), in pre-K classrooms across their state.
And guess what? Both programs led to increases in teachers’ CLASS scores. Oh, and teachers really liked their experiences with the programs. Not too shabby.
I love research, but I realize that not everyone wants to dig into an in depth report or a technical appendix, so below are the cliff notes for your reading pleasure. That said, don’t let me stop you from geeking out big time. The full report can be found here.
Things to Know About the Three-Year Georgia Study of MMCI and MTP
Researchers posed two key questions:
- Were the MTP and MMCI interventions effective in improving
teacher-child interactions in pre-Kindergarten classrooms?
- How were the interventions perceived by Georgia’s Pre-K consultants and teachers?
What did they find?:
- Good stuff: both programs were effective and well-perceived!
- Emotional Support increased as a result of participation in MTP, as compared to the control group.
- Emotional Support and Instructional Support increased as a result of participation in MMCI, as compared to the control group.
- Teachers favorably rated participation in MTP and MMCI, as compared to the control group.
Why is this study so powerful and downright cool?:
- Researchers used a control group. Huh? What’s a control group? In research, a control group is a group that closely resembles the “treatment group” (in this case the group receiving MTP or MMCI) but doesn’t receive the treatment so that it can serve as a comparison when the results are evaluated.
- Participants were randomly assigned to three groups: MTP, MMCI, control. More on the control group thing: random assignment creates groups that are similar, thus any effect observed among intervention groups can be linked to the intervention effect and is not a characteristic of the individuals in the group. For example, if I opted into the MTP program because I wanted to work with a coach, it would be difficult to tell if my own excitement and motivation due to my choice impacted my CLASS scores or if it was due to the intervention itself.
- This kind of field study is incredibly difficult to undertake, which is why we are so grateful to the careful work of GA DECAL, Frank Porter Graham, and Child Trends.
So why should I care?:
- Almost everyday we get questions about how to "scale" professional development programs. This report shows that MTP and MMCI deliver impact on a large scale.
- We also talk a lot about "dosage," or just how much of an intervention it takes to create change. For instance, participants in the DECAL study attained fewer MTP cycles than those in the initial development study. An interesting fact is that our MTP participants in California achieved an average of 13.86 cycles last year. We will be studying these implementation models to draw important lessons. Indeed, is there a minimum, maximum, or ideal number of MTP cycles that yields the greatest change in teacher practice, as is asked in the GA study? Stay tuned.
All this to say, we realize that implementing meaningful PD is not easy—and there certainly is no magic wand (wouldn’t it be cool if there was?) In Georgia, it took a big commitment: time, valuable human capital, finances, training, and technology. But how rewarding to see it all pay off!
Congratulations to our partners at Georgia DECAL and all of the coaches and teachers who did the truly hard work to get these results!