Professional development, changes in teacher practice and improvements in Indigenous students’ educational performance: A case study from New Zealand
TATE Volume 28, Number 5, ISSN 0742-051X Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
This paper considers the relationship between a professional development programme designed to bring about changes in teacher practice through iterative cycles of implementation and evaluation and associated changes in Indigenous students’ educational performance. The paper does this by documenting the outcomes of the implementation of the Te Kotahitanga research and development project between 2007 and 2009 in schools in the third and fourth phases of the project. Evidence shows that the professional development programme of Te Kotahitanga has been implemented consistently in Phase 3 schools since 2004 and in Phase 4 schools since 2007. Changes in teacher practice and associated improvements in Māori student outcomes were seen in Phase 3 schools between 2004 and 2006. The first question is, therefore, have these changes been maintained during the period 2007–9, that is, during the fourth to seventh years of the project’s implementation in these schools. If so, then what implications does this maintenance of practice have for sustainability? The second question is, have the changes that were seen in the Phase 3 schools in the first three years of the project’s implementation, 2004–2006, been replicated in the Phase 4 schools in their first three years of the project. If so, what implications does this have for determining the strength of the association between improved student performance and the implementation of the professional development programme. In other words does a repeated measure over two different groups of schools at different times indicate that changes in Māori student outcomes are strongly associated with changes in teacher practice, even if we cannot demonstrate a direct cause–effect relationship.There are also other areas of significance. These include the indications as to what constitutes a pedagogy that improves Maori students’ experiences of schooling and achievement along with the more general interest in educational improvement for Indigenous students in other countries. In addition, while these findings in themselves are not sufficient to indicate that the changes in teacher practice and student outcomes that are associated with the professional development programme will be sustained, it is suggested that the conditions of maintenance and replication are necessary to form the basis of long-term sustainability.11While the term sustainability in common usage would refer to Maori student achievement being able to be maintained at a certain level, in this paper we also use the term in a more inclusive sense to mean the provision of a means whereby the reform is able to be deepened and extended by teachers, school leaders, and policy makers in response to changing student curriculum, and contextual matters over time and circumstance. In other words, the creation of conditions, including pedagogic reform, supported by changes in school vision and goals, institutions and policies, leadership practices, inclusion, use of evidence and ownership of the goals of the reform, that will mean that schools will continue to be able to improve Maori achievement levels until they reach that of their non-Maori peers.
Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Wearmouth, J., Peter, M. & Clapham, S. (2012). Professional development, changes in teacher practice and improvements in Indigenous students’ educational performance: A case study from New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 28(5), 694-705. Elsevier Ltd.