What teachers know and do is the most important influence on what students learn. The need to attract and retain high-quality teachers is widely recognised. Debate about the need to reform career structures for teachers has been going on for many years. The time is ripe for action. Of all the options available to policy makers seeking to improve student learning outcomes, the most effective are those that invest in teacher knowledge and skill. For this reason, professional development is moving to centre stage. The professional development research indicates that teacher effectiveness is not a fixed thing. Student achievement can climb significantly in schools and school systems that support effective professional learning. There are many individually effective professional development programs and activities operating at school and system levels, but the overall pattern of provision is brief, fragmentary and rarely sequential. The capacity of the profession to engage most of its members in effective modes of professional learning over the long term is weak.
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