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Research-Based Program Design

The K-12 Alliance is committed to providing high-quality professional development that is grounded in research and incorporates the use of best practices described in Designing Effective Professional Development; Lessons from the Eisenhower Program (1999). The six features of best practice - reform-based, content-focused, sufficient duration, collective participation, modeling active learning, and coherence - are incorporated in all K-12 Alliance programs. Each program is designed to address the needs of both participating teachers and their students, thus many programs have a particular area of emphasis; for example, some programs focus on meeting the needs of English learners in science or mathematics.

The major components of K-12 Alliance professional development programs include an intensive institute that addresses content and pedagogy and on-site implementation that reinforces content and pedagogical content knowledge. The Cadre, a team of university professors and practicing classroom teachers, provide the content portion of the institutes. K-12 Alliance Staff Developers and Regional Directors link the content to pedagogy sessions. During the school year, the program focuses on classroom implementation, guiding teachers through the Teaching Learning Collaborative (TLC), a specialized form of a lesson study.

The TLC is a signature program component of the K-12 Alliance. It is a powerful learning tool for teachers, which develops their skills to work collaboratively and tap into each other's expertise. Teachers go through a lesson cycle where, in a four-member team, they plan, debrief, redesign, re-teach, and then debrief a lesson, one more time. The purpose of the debrief sessions is to reflect on instructional and assessment practices. In addition, during the school year, teacher participants meet at frequent intervals where they learn to analyze student assessment data used to tailor instructional interventions for specific student populations.

Program effectiveness is evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative tools in the context of a quasi-experimental design with a control group matched to an experimental group. Evaluation is central to program improvement by establishing teacher feedback loops. A team of stakeholders works closely with the evaluator to discover program strengths and address program weaknesses with appropriate corrective actions.

Find out more about our programs: Back to Program Description