The Florida Department of Education detected a considerable lack of learning gains, especially across Algebra I, that cannot meet the State of Florida and District requirements. The majority of 9th-grade students are not scored in a minimum level 3 due to a complex of factors. They include the inability of the COVID-19-related hybrid schedule to provide necessary instructions for students to improve their academic progress and the late migration of students’ families that did not allow to start learning in time. It goes without saying that the identified problem requires efficient solution with the consideration of all aspects as it has a highly negative impact on students’ future. In this case, it is necessary to develop and implement the most appropriate practices of teaching and learning for students to reach their learning gains.
First of all, it is essential to organize action research to evaluate the current situation and develop particular methods for the problem’s solution. Conducted by teachers, principals, and other stakeholders, action research “involves gathering information about the ways in which their particular schools operate, the teachers teach, and the students learn” (Mills & Gay, 2019, p. 452). In general, this type of educational research has multiple benefits as it is reliable, relevant, authoritative, and accessible. The goal of action research is to collect data to gain insight, develop reflective practice, and instigate positive changes in teaching that may contribute in the improvement of learning outcomes.
The majority of school systems all over the world admit the significance of teachers’ professional development on student outcomes. The results of action research conducted by the Florida Department of Education for the evaluation of the current problem connected with poor student outcomes may indicate the necessity of a new learning program. For its development, collaborative sessions among educational faculties and staff dedicated to the articulation of the program’s details are necessary. As a matter of fact, students’ progress cannot be regarded as the means to obtain better test scores. In turn, an educator should understand that students’ knowledge and skills obtained in the process of education is the result that should be achieved as it will determine their lives in the future. That is why, a teacher should apply all his competencies and experience performing control over instructions and facilitating students’ comprehension of tasks and assignments. For this, he may prepare instructional units that emphasize learning goals established by the Florida Department of Education and create tests that will demonstrate students’ knowledge related to various subjects. These results should be discussed during collaborative planning session among teachers established by schools’ administrations to propose alternative strategies of teaching and learning. For example, students with the lowest performance may be selected for the additional evaluation of their fundamentals that will help elaborate on individual approaches for the improvement of learning outcomes.
At the same time, as previously mentioned, teachers’ professional development should be a crucial factor of students’ academic progress. However, according to Gore et al. (2017), regardless of the fact that teachers are traditionally involved in continuous professional learning activities, these activities often have a lack of connection with classroom practice. In turn, there are multiple factors, including teachers’ self-efficacy, satisfaction with working conditions, attitude to students, and commitment to their subjects, that contribute to students’ motivation and the overall results of learning (Gore et al., 2017). That is why these aspects should be considered as well for the improvement of educators’ professional development. All in all, teachers remain indispensable in relation to any performance of a new learning program. Thus, from a personal perspective, collaborative planning sessions may be organized for math departments every week. Educators will receive an opportunity to share ideas and present their visions on how learning strategies should be improved and executed in the classroom settings.
In addition, teachers’ knowledge should be evaluated as well to understand whether their competencies allow them to provide the most efficient methods of teaching to improve students’ learning. In this case, it is suggested for math educators to complete a “well-developed mathematics professional development program that is commercially available on a wide scale” (Jacob et al., 2017, p. 379). In general, these programs help teachers improve their knowledge related to the subject, understand how students learn math, develop insight into individual learning difficulties, and apply efficient classroom strategies of instructions’ delivery. In order to evaluate the impact of a program on student outcomes, it is necessary to collect data (test results) before and after teachers’ training.
The COVID-19-related pandemic has already introduced new realities of education that cannot be underestimated. The hybrid schedule should be nevertheless applied, and its previous failure may be connected with a lack of teachers’ knowledge and skills in relation to this aspect. In this case, one of the potential solutions that will improve teaching and learning is the implementation of professional development for all teachers in different e-learning programs such as Imagine Learning, Microsoft Teams, and Canvas. In general, online and blended learning may be regarded as a cost-efficient opportunity to receive education when traditional face-to-face interaction is unavailable. As a result, in-service teachers “are not only required to have a thorough understanding of pedagogical theories and their teaching subject, but they are also expected to be—partially—proficient in online teaching” (Philipsen et al., 2019, p. 1145). At the same time, a considerable number of educators admit that they experience difficulties connected with the use of e-learning programs.
In this case, teacher should be provided with an opportunity to complete specific courses that will allow hem to use e-learning programs, including Imagine Learning, Microsoft Teams, and Canvas, in the most efficient way to provide instructions and monitor students’ academic progress. Multiple studies have already proved the significance of teachers’ competencies in online learning for student outcomes and the necessity of “learning theory, technical expertise, and pedagogical shifts for teaching in the online environment” (Mohr & Shelton, 2017, p. 123). Using e-learning programs, will be able to prepare interactive lessons, communicate with students in real-time, share files and materials, distribute assignments, grade the, and provide timely feedback.
In order to evaluate the efficiency of teachers’ professional development related to the use of e-learning programs, it is necessary to collect data that will reflect the starting point. Subsequently, teachers will complete online learning courses and share their results during collaborative planning sessions helping each other and discussing how strategies may be adapted on the basis of new skills. Finally, educators will start to use e-learning programs in the classroom and when traditional lessons will be unavailable. After this, data will be collected again on the basis of test results to define whether teachers’ professional development in a digital sphere led to the improvement of student outcomes.
Gore, J., Lloyd, A., Smith, M., Bowe, J., Ellis, H., & Lubans, D. (2017). Effects of professional development on the quality of teaching: Results from a randomised controlled trial of Quality Teaching Rounds. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 99-113.
Jacob, R., Hill, H., & Corey, D. (2017). The impact of a professional development program on teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching, instruction, and student achievement. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(2), 379-407.
Mills, G. E., & Gay, L. R. (2019). Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications (12th ed.). Pearson.
Mohr, S. C., & Shelton, K. (2017). Best practices framework for online faculty professional development: A Delphi study. Online Learning Journal, 21(4), 123-140.
Philipsen, B., Tondeur, J., Pareja Roblin, N., Vanslambrouck, S., & Zhu, C. (2019). Improving teacher professional development for online and blended learning: A systematic meta-aggregative review. Educational Technology Research and Development, 67(5), 1145-1174.