Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden (2024)

Cost. That would seem to be the most fundamental aspect of crafting a professional-development program. But as a number of researchers have discovered, school districts rarely have a good fix on how much they actually spend on such training—or on what that spending buys in the way of teacher or student learning.

Because districts tend to characterize professional development as programming, they typically underestimate other investments in teachers’ knowledge and skills—such as how much they spend on salaries during hours teachers attend in-service workshops, according to experts who study district budgeting on professional development.

What’s more, few professional-development activities are linked to outcome measures of whether a teacher has increased his or her capacity to instruct students, they say.

“There’s a sense that teacher effectiveness matters, and we’ve got to help teachers improve in effectiveness, but we don’t necessarily know how,” said Marguerite Roza, a scholar at the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, in Bothell. “But districts are operating as though they do know how.”

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Mich. District Adds Accountability to Staff Training
Staff-Development Providers Eye New Opportunities
Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden
Questions Arise Over Teacher-Credential Expenses
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Texas District Targets Teachers for ELL Training
Web Extras
Interactive: Teacher Voices View video profiles of teachers discussing professional development.
Digital Edition View the interactive PDF version of this report.
Teacher PD Sourcebook Directory

Finer-grained analyses of the costs of training and what it leverages are critical for districts to use such funding productively, she and other scholars assert.

“What we can safely say is that most urban districts are spending a lot more than they realize, between $6,000 to $8,000 a year per teacher, on the in-service days and on training,” said Allan R. Odden, a professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied the issue of professional-development spending. “But it’s a mile wide and an inch thick. And until recently, districts were spending it on anything rather than on how to teach reading and how to teach math.”

Complex Accounting

No national data exist on how much districts spend to support teacher training, partly because there is no national definition of the term “professional development.” Analyses of specific urban districts’ budgeting practices, in the meantime, show that activities financed as part of professional development tended to be fragmented rather than supportive of learning goals, according to Karen Hawley Miles of Education Resource Strategies, which contracts with districts to analyze their expenses.

“Districts spend a lot more than they actively manage or that they think strategically about organizing,” said Ms. Miles, the president of the Newton, Mass.-based nonprofit organization. “You get lots of departments trying to do little pieces of professional development, but most of them are too shallow and spread apart to make a big difference.”

As just one example, her group documented that the Philadelphia district, in the 2007-08 school year, spent nearly $58 million on professional-development initiatives, primarily for teacher coaches and release time for lead teachers to work with peers in schools.

But those investments were being overseen by as many as nine separate offices or entities. And the analysis revealed a number of weaknesses in how that time was spent. For instance, activities that coaches and lead teachers were permitted to engage in were broadly defined and not audited for quality, the ERS report found.

Since the report was issued, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has made changes to the district’s training system. But district officials did not respond to several requests seeking comment.

In addition, Ms. Miles’ group found that Philadelphia spent an additional $41 million when counting the time set aside in the district calendar for mandated professional learning. As the ERS analyses show, in-service days are a significant professional-development cost, equal to the proportion of salary paid to teachers on those days.

Those costs can vary widely by district: Of the 100 largest school districts’ most recent calendars, the number of days teachers were expected to be at school for reasons other than instructing students ranged from no days in Albuquerque, N.M., to 17 in Little Rock, Ark., according to a database maintained by the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality.

Scheduling Time

The issue of teacher time and its cost is only now starting to attract attention from districts, researchers, and practitioners.

Multimedia: Teacher Voices

Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden (1)

These mini-profiles—including video interviews—are meant to provide insight, but not to serve as representative examples of the districts in which they teach or programs in question. Their diverse experiences highlight the challenges districts face in providing high-quality training matched to each teacher’s needs.

View Teacher Profiles >>>

“We just don’t recognize time as a resource, just as we didn’t use to recognize teachers as a resource,” said Jennifer King Rice, a professor of education policy at the University of Maryland College Park who has studied professional-development spending. “We are locked into traditions of how we use time, and we allocate it across districts in ways that may be unproductive.”

For instance, the traditional mode of scheduling scatters teachers’ daily preparation at different times from colleagues’ in the same subject or grade level, making it much harder for them to work together to improve practice.

Timothy Knowles, a former deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for the Boston school district, recalled a visit to the district by a British school-inspectorate team in 2002.

“It came home to me when Her Majesty’s Inspectorate said to us, ‘You have more time [for teacher learning] built into the fabric of the day than any schools we’ve ever seen anywhere, and you’re not using it,’” he said.

The situation, Mr. Knowles surmised, reflects the cultural norms of teaching in the United States. American education continues to prize teacher autonomy above the notion of teaching as a collaborative enterprise, in contrast to practices in higher-performing countries.

In fact, according to a study commissioned in 2009 by Learning Forward, a Dallas-based membership organization formerly known as the National Staff Development Council, teachers in Asian and European countries generally spent fewer minutes instructing students and more time working on their lessons with other teachers, compared with teachers in the United States.

Lesson planning in the United States averages between three and five hours a week, but in most European and Asian countries, teachers spend 15 to 20 hours a week on those activities and generally perform them in collaboration with their peers, the study found.

And such work is considered part and parcel of a teacher’s professional expectations, noted Thomas R. Guskey, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington.

“There is this perception [in the United States] that if a teacher isn’t in front of kids teaching, then it’s a waste of their time,” Mr. Guskey said. “In China, teachers are basically in school from 8 to 5 every day, they have a significantly longer day than our teachers do, but ... a portion of the day is spent lesson-planning with other teachers, writing extensive comments on student work, and those things are built into their schedule.”


In 2007-08, Philadelphia spent a total of $162 million on all professional development.

Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden (2)

Note: Figures predate change in leadership.
Source: Education Resource Strategies

Have case studies been able to determine whether districts invest enough in their current teacher corps when all the costs of professional development are accurately accounted for? Some scholars say yes.

“For most big districts, it’s not that they need more money for professional development. It’s capturing what they spend and refocusing the whole professional-development system,” Mr. Odden of the University of Wisconsin contended. But similar analyses of rural and suburban districts’ spending are sparse, making it more difficult to talk about their investments, he acknowledged.

Ms. Miles of Education Resource Strategies isn’t convinced districts now spend enough on professional development. She points out that, among districts studied by the ERS, money spent on initiatives and programming amounted to only 2 percent of Philadelphia’s total operating budget in the year studied, compared with a high of about 5.5 percent in another district, Rochester, N.Y. (Those figures don’t take into account salary costs for district-mandated in-service days.)

“We felt they plain weren’t spending enough,” Ms. Miles said about Philadelphia.

The bottom line, experts say, is that truly focusing professional development requires administrators to figure out where their dollars are spent, whether those patterns align to strategic goals for teacher improvement, and if not, institute changes to the spending.

The Union Factor

Such changes generally require delicate union-management partnerships. Collective bargaining contracts, for instance, specify whether some of the daily preparation hours teachers are entitled to could be appropriated by building administrators for collaborative teacher learning.

Breaking those logjams can be tricky, but the number of districts that have done it shows it is not impossible. Beginning in 2004, administrators and union officials in Flint, Mich., for instance, used the collective bargaining process to institute a different school calendar, resulting in more than 20 late-start Wednesdays freeing up 75 minutes for teacher collaboration. The trade-off: slightly longer school days and a reduction of several half-days formerly spent on district-directed professional development.

Mr. Odden favors a more radical restructuring of school schedules that gives teachers time for collaboration in the regular school day and doesn’t detract from other in-service opportunities.

The 38,000-student Beaverton, Ore., district is now using such a model in several of its eight middle schools.

Cedar Park Middle School, for instance, uses a schedule that adds collaboration time for teachers in the same grade without lengthening the school day or taking away from instructional minutes.

Eighth grade-level content teachers have a period that’s used on alternate days for small-group student interventions or for collaborative teacher learning. Their students take electives, like physical education or foreign language, during that time. Then, in the afternoons, the core-content teachers instruct in double-length classes.

The schedule comes with its own trade-off: somewhat larger class sizes.

Accountability Question

The final task for school districts is to better tie their professional-development spending to student outcomes and other measures of teacher improvement, something that has been lacking in nearly all the extant literature on the topic.

That isn’t an easy task, especially because the culture of professional-development funding hasn’t emphasized accountability—a problem that starts at the top. The U.S. Department of Education continues to give out nearly $3 billion a year in federal aid for professional development under Title II-A, its largest teacher-quality program by far, even though it has never fully studied the effects of that spending.

Even as new forms of teacher training, such as collaborative teacher teams, have grown popular, districts have done little to prove their efficacy.

“Educators have yet to demonstrate that, across many different contexts, they are using [professional learning communities] to improve their performance or that of their students,” said M. Hayes Mizell, a distinguished senior fellow at Learning Forward. “School systems have yet to demonstrate that they can or will collect data necessary to demonstrate that PLCs are achieving such results.”

The group supports proposed new language in federal law that would require recipients of federal professional-development funding to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based teacher-learning activities.

Ms. Rice of the University of Maryland cautions that it will entail painstaking work to make sure such measures are accurate.

“I worry a lot about ‘gaming,’ that there are ways to overgeneralize the effects of a particular initiative, or that we’ll demonstrate impact on outcomes that are too narrowly defined,” she said.

“From an ideal perspective, I think that’s the right direction,” she said of greater accountability for professional development’s effectiveness. “From a realistic perspective, I worry that districts just don’t have the capacity.”

Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden (3)
Stephen Sawchuk

Assistant Managing Editor, Education Week

Stephen Sawchuk is an assistant managing editor for Education Week, leading coverage of teaching, learning, and curriculum.

Coverage of leadership, human-capital development, extended and expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the November 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Cost of Teacher Training Lost in District Budgets

Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden (2024)


How much money is spent on teacher professional development? ›

Eighty percent of districts used that money for professional development, while only 19 percent used it for class-size reduction. The report found that in 2020-2021, school districts spent $1 billion in federal money from this pot on professional development.

What does professional development include? ›

Professional development is gaining new skills through continuing education and career training after entering the workforce. It can include taking classes or workshops, attending professional or industry conferences, or earning a certificate to expand your knowledge in your chosen field.

How much does Alludo cost? ›

$3/adult learner/month!

How can a teacher develop professionally? ›

Effective Teacher Professional Development That Works
  1. Set goals. Much like planning a lesson, start with your target outcome. ...
  2. Narrow it down. ...
  3. Make it hands-on. ...
  4. Foster collaboration. ...
  5. Develop something usable. ...
  6. Provide coaching and mentoring. ...
  7. Revisit goals. ...
  8. Be realistic.
Apr 20, 2023

How much do people spend on professional development? ›

Training per Employee in the U.S.

In terms of how much money they spend per employee, large companies spent $1,678 per learner in 2020, compared to $1,433 in 2021. Medium businesses spent $581 per learner in 2020, compared to $924 in 2021, and small businesses spent $924 per learner in 2020, compared to $722 in 2021.

How big is the K 12 professional development market? ›

K12 Education Market Research, 2031. The global k12 education market was valued at $103.5 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $525.7 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 17.7% from 2022 to 2031.

What are the 3 C's of professional development? ›

if you want to be successful, focus on the three Cs: confidence, competence and connections.

What are the 4 C's professional development? ›

The four C's of 21st Century skills are:

Critical thinking. Creativity. Collaboration. Communication.

What are the 6 C's of professional development? ›

The 6 Cs are Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. Education leaders feel “a small number of academic and personal/interpersonal qualities and capabilities” are key to helping students.

Is Alludo a good company? ›

Alludo Reviews FAQs

Is Alludo a good company to work for? Alludo has an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5, based on over 157 reviews left anonymously by employees. 48% of employees would recommend working at Alludo to a friend and 52% have a positive outlook for the business.

What kind of professional development is most valuable for teachers? ›

The top three types of teacher professional development are periodic workshops, in-class observation, and single-session seminars. By keeping a few general principles in mind, you can improve each type of teacher PD.

What makes a good professional development? ›

Effective professional development engages teachers in learning opportunities that are supportive, job-embedded, instructionally-focused, collaborative, and ongoing. When guided by these characteristics, school leaders can design meaningful learning experiences for all teachers.

What is the average cost to train an employee? ›

According to the Association for Talent Development, organizations spend an average of $1,252 per employee on training and development initiatives. Though this figure is a useful starting point to help give an insight into potential spend on employee training, it's just an average.

Are professional development courses worth it? ›

A: Yes, investing in professional development courses can be well worth the time and money. Such courses can help you stay competitive in your field, expand your skill set, open up networking opportunities, and potentially increase your earning power.

What are the costs of development? ›

Total Development Cost (TDC) is the sum of all costs for a project including all undertakings necessary for administration, planning, site acquisition, demolition, construction or equipment and financing (including payment of carrying charges) and for otherwise carrying out the development of the project, excluding off ...

What is the value of investing in professional development? ›

Investing in professional development increases employee engagement, leads to a positive work culture, and develops leadership skills for continued success.

What is the effect size of professional development? ›

The impact of professional development however, decreases at each step. Hattie's synthesis of 800 meta-analyses notes that professional development is likely to change teacher knowledge with an effect size of 0.90.

How big is the deep learning market? ›

The global deep learning market size was valued at USD 49.6 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 69.8 billion in 2023.

What are four 4 features of a good professional development plan? ›

Professional Development Planning Steps
  • Step One: Request a self-assessment from the staff member.
  • Step Two: Develop your assessment of the individual's skill level.
  • Step Three: Assess the department and organization's needs.
  • Step Four: Explore development opportunities with the staff member.

What are the 4 critical elements of professional growth? ›

With this in mind, let us examine the four critical elements for growth and development: Reputation, Education, Networking and Training (RENT).

What are the 5 characteristics of continuing professional development? ›

The evaluation focuses on the five core features of effective CPD: content focus, active learning, coherence, duration, and collective participation.

What is 5 es lesson plan? ›

What are the 5Es? o The 5Es represent five stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend (or Elaborate), and Evaluate. personally involved in the lesson, while pre-assessing prior understanding.

What is 4d participating in the professional community? ›

What is component 4d? Component 4d focuses on teachers participating in a professional community. Schools promote the learning of students. When promoting student learning, teachers need to work with their colleagues to share strategies, plan efforts, and plan for the success of all students.

What are the 5 components of professional learning communities? ›

What are the components of a professional learning community?
  • A shared mission, vision, values, and goals. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Collective inquiry to find best practices and measure current reality. ...
  • Action-oriented. ...
  • Committed to continuous improvement. ...
  • Results-oriented.
Sep 13, 2021

What are the 3 critical components of an effective professional development plan? ›

Regardless, there are always 5 elements that every professional development plan should include. They are assessment, goals, resources, strategy, and evaluation. Whether you are working on a PDP for yourself or the people you manage, commitment to each element of the process is key.

What are the 6 C's of effective leadership? ›

In this book, Nelson introduces the six “C's” of leading teams to commitment and buy-in: culture, communication, consistency, collaboration, connection, and the culminating “C,” commitment.

What are the 6 C's of 21st century skills? ›

6 C's of Education
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Citizenship/culture. ...
  • Character education/connectivity. ...
  • Project-based learning. ...
  • Genius hour.
Feb 9, 2021

Does Corel still exist? ›

On July 3, 2019, Corel was acquired by KKR for a reported $1 billion. In September 2020, Christa Quarles was named the CEO of the company. In 2021, Prashant Ketkar was named the Chief Technology and Product Officer of the company. In September 2022, Corel is rebranded to Alludo (wordplay on the phrase "All You Do").

What does Corel do? ›

CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite is your go-to professional graphic design software for creating graphics and layouts, editing photos or designing websites.

Is Schneider Downs a good company? ›

Schneider Downs & Co. has an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5, based on over 97 reviews left anonymously by employees.

What are two types of professional development? ›

Professional learning opportunities can come in all shapes and sizes, but most fall into two groups: accredited programs and self-teaching.

How do you structure a professional development? ›

Steps to Good Professional Development
  1. Know Your Audience. ...
  2. Set Goals. ...
  3. Choose Your Focus. ...
  4. Choose Your Presentation Style. ...
  5. Pace Your Time. ...
  6. Plan Ahead. ...
  7. Connect to Standards. ...
  8. Evaluate the Workshop.

What are the five professional dimensions? ›

A Review of the Five Dimensions
  • Supportive and Shared Leadership. ...
  • Shared Values and Vision. ...
  • Collective Learning and Application of Learning. ...
  • Supportive Conditions. ...
  • Shared Personal Practice.

What do teachers want out of professional development? ›

Teachers want professional development that they can use immediately to help them prepare and deliver what their students need the most, i.e., skills, techniques, and strategies that allow them to address individual needs and help them tailor differentiated learning for their students.

What are the five challenges facing teacher PD? ›

Herrmann and Grossman define five primary challenges facing teacher professional development: it lacks an ambitious vision of teaching and learning; it fails to cultivate teacher ownership; it is short, sporadic, and disconnected from the classroom; it's one-size-fits-all; and it's not collaborative.

What are the 8 principles of professional development? ›

The eight principles are: intention, authenticity, planning, clarity, monitoring and assessment, reflection, evaluation, and acknowledgment.

What is the most important part of professional development? ›

One of the most important things you can do for your professional development is set goals for yourself. Your goals give you a path and a purpose in your career. Your department may have goals for the team and your company can have overarching goals that drive business decisions and strategy.

What is the main goal of professional development? ›

Professional development goals are short- and long-term benchmarks that encourage career growth, increase productivity, and support your personal and professional interests.

What is the most common professional development for teachers? ›

The top three types of teacher professional development are periodic workshops, in-class observation, and single-session seminars.

How much does teacher training cost in the US? ›

A teacher training course may cost you $10,000–$30,000, depending on the teacher training institution. The price is determined by the course you're studying, the subject you're focusing on, and where you're applying from.

What is a pay for performance plan for teachers? ›

Performance-based pay originated from a corporate model that bases a teachers salary on job performance. Higher performing teachers receive more compensation, while lower performing teachers receive less.

How much professional development do teachers need in Texas? ›

The appropriate number of clock-hours of continuing professional education (CPE) must be completed during each five-year renewal period (TAC §232.11). Classroom teachers must complete 150 CPE hours. No more than 150 CPE hours are required, even if the educator holds multiple classroom certificates.

How often should teachers do professional development? ›

Most schools have teachers write goals for professional growth each year. Of the two to three goals a teacher might write, require at least one developmental goal in the area of focus for the year.

What are the 7 essential teaching skills? ›

Here is a list of some Skills for Teachers to develop a better relationship with students and make teaching more fruitful:
  • Understanding of the Subject.
  • Communication.
  • Continuous Learning.
  • Leadership.
  • Creativity.
  • Adaptability.
  • Internet-savvy.

How much is the teacher shortage in the United States? ›

As of October 2022, after the school year had already begun, 45% of U.S. public schools had at least one teacher vacancy. That's according to limited federal data. For several months, NPR has been exploring the forces at work behind these local teacher shortages.

Will Teach for America pay for my masters? ›

Does Teach For America pay for my certification or master's degree? Teach For America does not pay for your certification or master's degree, however, there are different benefits available to corps members to help pay for the coursework that you must take in order to teach in your region.

How much does time to teach training cost? ›

What does it take to be a successful trainer? How much is tuition for the Time To Teach training? $675.00.

Should teachers get paid more based on performance? ›

Performance-based pay not only allows teachers to earn more money, but it also motivates them to meet specific goals. It is a win-win situation for both the teacher and his or her students. The teacher earns more money, and as a result, their students receive a better education.

What is a successful pay-for-performance plan? ›

A successful pay for performance plan requires consistent engagement with the employees to let them know that their performance has a direct impact on the compensation they will be receiving. In other words, the communication and education to them needs to be clear and effective.

What is the disadvantage of a pay-for-performance plan? ›

It may demotivate low-performing workers

If not conducted correctly, pay increases based on performance may affect your low-performing workers negatively. They may see themselves as incapable of reaching such incentives, and their effort may suffer.

What is the highest paying school district for teachers in Texas? ›

Grand Prairie ISD pays the highest salaries to new teachers in North Texas for the 2022-23 school year, according to a new study.

What is the highest average teacher salary in Texas? ›

The average top salary for a Texas teacher is $64,739, which is more than $13,000 below the national average for a top teacher salary.

What is the maximum teacher salary in Texas? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in Texas? The average Public School Teacher salary in Texas is $55,673 as of May 25, 2023, but the range typically falls between $46,492 and $67,896.


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