Professional Development Activities of U.S. Public School Teachers

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics provides a snapshot of teacher professional development among U.S. public school teachers. The report uses data collected through the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) Public School Teacher Questionnaire. This report relies on data provided by public school teachers about their professional development activities.

The report focuses on public school teachers’ responses to questions regarding the topics covered in their professional development activities; the amount of time spent in those activities in the last 12 months; the support they received for participation; and whether they engaged in less formal professional activities, such as working collaboratively with other teachers on instruction. The report examines each of these aspects of public school teachers’ professional development not only nationwide but also by the level of the schools in which they taught, their years of teaching experience, and the locale in which they taught.

Among the findings:

The most prevalent topic of professional development among public school teachers was the content of the subject(s) they taught, with 85 percent of teachers participating;

The next most common topic of professional development among public school teachers was the use of computers for instruction (67 percent), followed by reading instruction (57 percent), student discipline and classroom management (43 percent), teaching students with disabilities (37 percent), and teaching limited-English-proficient (LEP) students or English language learners (ELLs) (27 percent);

In addition to formal professional development activities, 81 percent of teachers participated in regularly scheduled collaboration with other teachers; 67 percent observed or were observed by other teachers for at least 10 minutes; and 45 percent conducted individual or collaborative research on a topic of professional interest; and

Scheduled time during the contract year (e.g., weekdays in which students were not in school, allowing teachers to participate in professional development activities) was the most prevalent type of support that public school teachers received for professional development, provided to 79 percent of teachers.

To view the full report, please visit