Under the auspices of the Board on Science Education, in collaboration with the Teacher Advisory Council, the committee* will identify the learning needs for teachers throughout their careers. The committee will identify how these needs might differ depending on school level (elementary, middle, and high school). To the extent possible the committee will characterize the current state of the learning opportunities and support for learning that exist for teachers across their careers and across school levels and identify the characteristics of effective learning opportunities for teachers. The committee will also consider how school and district contexts shape teachers’ learning opportunities and limit or promote teachers’ efforts to implement new classroom practices. They will consider the roles of school and district administrators and the professional development opportunities they may need in order to provide effective support for teachers. If possible, the committee will develop guidance for schools and districts for how best to support teachers’ learning.
The committee will assess and describe the strengths and weaknesses of the available research evidence related to each component of a teacher learning continuum. It will identify major gaps, and develop a research agenda for future work on professional development continuums in science. The committee will review and analyze research challenges such as appropriate measures of student outcomes and teacher learning and the difficulty of establishing causal links between professional development, teachers’ instructional practices, and students’ outcomes. The committee will outline the research needed to more clearly define learning continuums for science teachers at each stage of their careers.
*Supported by funding from The Merck Company Foundation.