Improving instructional practice: The value of classroom goal teams as measured by elementary teachers' perceptions
Student achievement is in the forefront of education as never before. Educators, parents, business leaders, community members, and politicians are all actively watching reports of student achievement. Wong (2003) found in more than 200 studies, the only way to improve student achievement is with a knowledgeable and skillful teacher. The expertise of a teacher is a critical variable in effecting student achievement (Marzano, 2003). In this study, Classroom Goals Team Project (CGTP) was utilized as a professional development program to bring about improvements in teaching and learning in an effort to positively impact student achievement. The CGTP, implemented in a suburban school district in Nebraska, is a process where classroom teachers were asked to identify an area of concern within their classroom based upon student performance assessment data.
The major finding of the CGTP indicates the teachers of this district view the CGTP as an effective professional development model and classroom goals team meetings were perceived as productive by 89% of the teachers. Other findings of this study focus on the impact of five constructs identified in the research as critical to effective professional development programs. These constructs are: learning community/collaborative teams, quality teaching/instructional practices, leadership, data driven decision making, and equity.
A benefit of the CGTP was the foundation for fundamental change in attitudes and perceptions of what professional development looks like and sounds like in this district. Professional development has gone beyond a one day, shot in the dark event to a much higher level of active engagement and monitoring of successful implementation with consistent and frequent feedback from peers. Students had an increased opportunity to learn through the CGTP, which according to Berlinger & Biddle (1997) is the single most powerful predictor of student achievement. The results of the review of literature and the data from this study support the need to have a professional development program, which is student achievement driven, and teacher focused in learning communities.
0524: Elementary education