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NATHAN BARRETT

Project Evaluator

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An Evaluation of the Appalachian Math and Science Partnership: Understanding the Decision to Participate and the Impact on Student Outcomes

The literature has demonstrated that low-performing schools face the greatest challenges in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. This paper examines if there is an alternative way to improve teacher quality in chronically high poverty, low performing schools. In particular, we look at the provision of in-service training to teachers located in these schools. We evaluate a large program within the federal government’s initiative to improve outcomes in math and science. The analysis explicitly recognizes that the weakest teachers may not be the ones who are motivated to select into relatively more rigorous, content-based professional development. The results indicate, however, that weaker teachers were more likely to participate in the particular training examined here. Elementary and high school students showed higher achievement gains linked to the teacher training. The evaluation serves as a model for evaluating other teacher professional development programs that were not designed to be randomized trial experiments.