Categories for Quality Teachers

Does Implementation Support Improve Fluency-based Math Outcomes?

April 29, 2022

Evidence-based interventions have the potential to improve educational outcomes for students.  Often these programs are introduced with an initial training but once the training has been completed often there is no additional follow-up support available.  This can result in the educational initiative not being fully adopted and frequently abandoned soon after initial adoption.  To change this cycle, on-going coaching or implementation support has been suggested as an alternative.  The current study by Owen and colleagues evaluated the impact of implementation supports on student outcomes who participated in the implementation of Say All Fast Minute Every Day Shuffled (SAFMEDS).  This program is designed to promote fast and accurate recall.  In this instance, the goal was to increase fluency with math facts.  This was a large randomized trial in which teachers received training on implementing SAFMEDS, and following training were assigned to either a No Support group, or an Implementation Support Group.  Implementation Support consisted of three face-to-face meetings with a teacher and email contact initiated by the teacher.  All of the students in the study had been identified as performing below standards for their age.  The results suggest that across grade levels (Grade 1-2 and Grades 3-5) Implementation Supports resulted in small effect size improvements compared to the No Support Group.  For Grades 1-2, the effect size was d=0.23 and for Grades 3-5 d=0.25. These are relatively small effect sizes; however, they are larger than the average effect sizes reported in the professional development literature that apply coaching elements to math programs.  It should also be noted that the Implementation Supports consisted of three hours across a school year.  This is a relatively low intensity dose of support and one that is likely to be practical in most school contexts.

The important take-away from this research is that some level of Implementation Support will likely be necessary to gain benefit from empirically-supported interventions such as SAFMEDS.  The challenge for researchers is to identify the minimum dosage of Implementation Support to improve outcomes and the critical components of the Implementation Support so that it is efficient and effective.

Owen, K. L., Hunter, S. H., Watkins, R. C., Payne, J. S., Bailey, T., Gray, C., … & Hughes, J. C. (2021). Implementation Support Improves Outcomes of a Fluency-Based Mathematics Strategy: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 14(3), 523-542.



Is Real-Time Performance Feedback Effective?

March 3, 2022

Performance feedback is often considered a necessary part of training educators. the challenge is to provide the feedback in a timely manner so that it positively impacts skill acquisition. Often times, the feedback is delayed by hours, or days, which may limit the impact of the feedback. Real-time performance feedback is considered optimal, but may be considered unfeasible in many educational contexts. 

One option is to provide feedback utilizing technology such as “bug in the ear” to deliver feedback in real-time. Sinclair and colleagues (2020) conducted a meta-analysis to determine if feedback delivered via technology could be considered to empirically-supported. In the review, 23 studies met inclusion criteria. Twenty-two of the studies were single case designs and one was a group design. The reported findings were that real-time performance feedback is an effective method for increasing skill acquisition of educators. The authors cautioned that this type of feedback is an intensive intervention and suggested that it is not feasible to use for training all teachers. They suggest that it should be considered an intervention when other training methods have not proven effective. 

In this context, it becomes feasible to support those educators that have not benefitted from less intensive interventions. If it is considered part of a multi-tiered system of support for educators, it can play an important role in training. It can improve the performance of educators and perhaps reduce turnover because it allows educators to develop the skills to be successful.


Sinclair, A. C., Gesel, S. A., LeJeune, L. M., & Lemons, C. J. (2020). A review of the evidence for real-time performance feedback to improve instructional practice. The Journal of Special Education, 54(2), 90-100.



How Well are We Preparing Novice Teachers in Classroom Management?

December 17, 2021

Classroom teachers consistently report classroom management as a significant area of concern.  This is especially true for early career teachers and teachers often report it is one of the most common reasons for leaving the profession.  Highly rigorous, practical, and effective pre-service and professional development training approaches are necessary to address classroom behavior challenges.  A recent systematic review by Hirsch and colleagues (2021) reviewed the literature on classroom management training to determine the current status of professional development for classroom teachers.  Ultimately, the authors identified eight experimental studies that met inclusion criteria.  There were several interesting findings from this review.  Of the experimental studies reviewed, a low number of participants reported having received prior training in classroom management.  As the authors discuss, these results are not surprising since relatively few states have policy requirements for classroom teachers to receive instruction in classroom management.  Stevenson and colleagues (2020) proposed the steps for improving instruction in classroom management: (1) pre-service coursework must include a course on explicit, evidence-based, culturally, and contextually relevant classroom management skills; (2) fieldwork should incorporate explicit support and coaching on classroom management; and (3) state departments of education should require training that aligns with the best practices of classroom management to support the  needs of teachers and students.  If these three recommendations were acted on, teachers would likely be more prepared to address the behavioral challenges in their classrooms.

A second finding from the Hirsch et al. (2021) systematic review was that there is considerable evidence to support practice-based professional development rather than the standard “train and hope” (Stokes & Baer, 1977).  There are seven critical features to practice-based professional development.  In the articles reviewed in this systematic review, all of the studies incorporated some elements of practice-based professional development.  A somewhat surprising finding among the reviewed articles was that the length of training ranged from 15 minutes to four days.  This result is likely possible because the researchers used practice-based professional development that included coaching and feedback to teach the new skills.

Hirsch and colleagues made a strong argument for the increased use of technology to support professional development, ranging from low-tech methods to telehealth.  Telehealth makes it possible for teachers in rural communities to access high-quality professional development. Creating more effective and efficient professional development is necessary to scale it up.

As Hirsch et al. make clear, considerably more research on professional development is necessary.  Eight articles are a small database for making policy and practice recommendations.

Link to Article:

Article citation:

Hirsch, S. E., Randall, K., Bradshaw, C., & Lloyd, J. W. (2021). Professional Learning and Development in Classroom Management for Novice Teachers: A Systematic Review. Education and Treatment of Children, 44(4), 291-307.


Stevenson, N. A., VanLone, J., & Barber, B. R. (2020). A commentary on the misalignment of teacher education and the need for classroom behavior management skills. Education and Treatment of Children, 43(4), 393-404.

Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization 1. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 10(2), 349-367.



Can We Make Coaching More Cost-Effective?

November 5, 2021

One of the great challenges in education is training all staff to implement interventions.  There is considerable reliance on para-professionals, especially in special education, to support students.  Many of the para-professionals have minimal training in educational practices.  In many cases, the training that does occur is the traditional didactic model and there is little evidence that it produces the outcomes it is supposed to yield.  An alternative model of training that holds great promise is coaching; however, there are limitations to it because it often relies on outside coaches which makes it cost-prohibited for many districts.  A recent report by Sallese and Vannest (2021) offers an alternative that may make coaching more cost-effective.  In their research, they utilized classroom teachers to coach the para-professionals working in the classroom to increase the use of behavior specific praise.  Many teachers report that they have little or no pre-service or in-service training focused on paraprofessional training and support (Douglas, Chapin & Nolan, 2016).  To address this issue, the teachers were provided a manual to guide their coaching efforts.  The components of the coaching package included self-monitoring, performance feedback, goal setting, modeling, and action planning.  In surveys of paraprofessionals one of the most cited concerns is lack of training and support in behavior management (Mason, et al., 2021).  Behavior specific praise has been identified as an evidence-based component of classroom behavior management (Simonsen, Fairbanks, Briesch, Myers, & Sugai (2008); however, it has often been a challenge to increase behavior specific praise and maintain it over time.  In this study, all four of the para-professionals that received coaching increased their rate of behavior specific praise.  In addition, 100% of the participants agreed that the procedures were appropriate and feasible in terms of time and effort required to implement.

This was a small-scale study but it holds promise as a method for coaching implementers to carry out effective practices.  From an implementation perspective, this provides a cost-effective approach to increase the internal capacity of a system to implement adopted practices.  Building internal capacity is critical if effective interventions are to be sustained over generations of implementers. 

Citation: Sallese, M. R., & Vannest, K. J. (2021). Effects of a Manualized Teacher-Led Coaching Intervention on Paraprofessional Use of Behavior-Specific Praise. Remedial and Special Education, 07419325211017298.



  • Douglas, S. N., Chapin, S. E., & Nolan, J. F. (2016). Special education teachers’ experiences supporting and supervising paraeducators: Implications for special and general education settings. Teacher Education and Special Education, 39(1), 60–74.
  • Mason, R. A., Gunersel, A. B., Irvin, D. W., Wills, H. P., Gregori, E., An, Z. G., & Ingram, P. B. (2021). From the frontlines: Perceptions of paraprofessionals’ roles and responsibilities. Teacher Education and Special Education, 44(2), 97–116.
  • Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education and treatment of children, 351-380.



What do we know about teacher preparation program models?

August 15, 2021

Teacher Preparation Program Models Overview. Teacher preparation began in the mid-19th century with the normal school, a 2-year course of study that prepared candidates for teaching. This model remained unchanged until the early 20th century, when universities created the undergraduate model, which currently predominates. Teacher candidates are required to spend 4 years obtaining a bachelor’s degree built around a prescribed course of education study. A second relatively recent modification is the 5-year credential model, requiring candidates to obtain a bachelor’s degree before beginning a 5th year of instruction in teaching. The driving force behind the postgraduate model was the belief that teachers were not respected. It was assumed that a post-bachelor’s and/or graduate degree certificate would confer greater esteem on the profession. This model is offered across the country and is mandated for all new teachers in California. A third option, the alternative credential (AC) model, arose as a solution to teacher shortages. The AC model is distinct from the traditional models in that candidates receive formal preparation coursework while already employed in the classroom. Currently, little evidence exists to support the superiority of any one method over the others.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2021). Teacher Preparation Models. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute




How Effective is Teacher Pre-service Pedagogy?

August 3, 2021

Teacher Preparation: Instructional Effectiveness Overview. Discussions of teacher preparation generally focus on content (what to teach) rather than pedagogy (how to teach). Teacher training has changed little in 100 years. Preparation programs rely on lectures supplemented with 8 weeks of student teaching under minimal university oversight. Lecturing persists for various reasons: It requires nominal effort, instructors have greater control of what is presented, and assessing mastery of the material is easy using tests and papers. There are significant disadvantages to lecturing. Listening to a lecturer and answering questions during the lecture are very different from being able to perform skillfully in a real-world setting. Research shows that the most effective training of complex skills occurs when the training follows the elementary paradigm “I do,” “we do,” “you do.” This model relies on introducing skills through lectures and discussions, in tandem with demonstrating the skills (I do). This is followed by learners practicing the skills alongside a coach (we do), and finally the student teacher performing independently with feedback from the coach (you do). Research suggests it is only when coaching is added to the mix that skills are fully mastered and used effectively in the classroom.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2021). Teacher Preparation: Instructional Effectiveness. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




What skills and knowledge should teacher preparation programs teach?

June 3, 2021

A substantial body of evidence is available to guide teacher preparation programs in developing a pre-service curriculum based on universal skills needed for success across settings, age ranges, and subjects being taught. These skills include instructional delivery, classroom management, formative assessment, and personal competencies (soft skills). Research tells us that better learning happens when teachers offer explicit instruction in which they select the learning area to be taught, set criteria for success, inform students of criteria, demonstrate the lesson through modeling, evaluate student learning, provide remedial opportunities, and offer closure after each lesson. Subject matter expertise is frequently identified as essential training for teachers, with substantial resources being allocated for such training. However, there is little research in support of emphasizing subject matter training, except for specialized training in reading, science, and mathematics. Time is better spent training new teachers to be fluent in universal skills. In its research and rating of teacher preparation programs, National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has found that many programs do not organize their curriculum around universal skills that evidence finds are essential to effective teacher preparation.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2021). Curriculum Content for Teacher Training Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




How can I use formative assessment to plan instruction and help students drive their own learning?

May 18, 2021

Teachers’ Essential Guide to Formative Assessment. This article offers information on how to implement formative assessments that will enhance student performance. The author defines formative assessment and highlights the benefits a teacher can expect when effectively implementing ongoing progress monitoring in the classroom. Formative assessment is defined, tips summarized to guide teachers in selecting the proper assessment tool for the task, and practical techniques for educators to consider are included for how to maximize the effectiveness of formative assessments.

Citation: Knowles, J. (2020). Teachers’ Essential Guide to Formative Assessment.




What are the costs of providing effective coaching?

April 14, 2021

Cost-Effectiveness of Instructional Coaching: Implementing a Design-Based, Continuous Improvement Model to Advance Teacher Professional Development. Schools devote substantial resources to teacher professional development each year. Yet studies show much of this investment is directed toward ineffective short-term workshops that have little impact on instructional change or student outcomes. At the same time, more intensive job-embedded forms of professional learning, such as instructional coaching, require substantially more resources than traditional professional development. The authors report the results of a two-year study assessing the cost-effectiveness of instructional coaching through a design-based, continuous improvement research model. Our findings suggest that coaching programs can become more cost-effective over time, as coaches and teachers refine their work together. 

Citation: Knight, D. S., & Skrtic, T. M. (2020). Cost-Effectiveness of Instructional Coaching: Implementing a Design-Based, Continuous Improvement Model to Advance Teacher Professional Development. Journal of School Leadership, 1052684620972048.




What does the research inform educators about professional development?

April 13, 2021

The Effects Of High-Quality Professional Development On Teachers And Students. This study includes an analysis of 52 randomized controlled trials evaluating teacher development programs, in order to establish their impact on pupil and teacher outcomes. The results suggest continued professional development has a significant effect on student learning.

Citation: Fletcher-Wood, H. and Zuccollo, J. (2020). The Effects Of High-Quality Professional Development On Teachers And Students: A Rapid Review and Meta-analysis. London, UK: Education Policy Institute.