How to improve teaching practice? Experimental comparison of centralized training and in-classroom coaching

RISE working paper
Jacobus Cilliers
Brahm Fleisch
Cas Prinsloo
Stephen Taylor

We experimentally compare two modes of in-service professional development for South African public primary school teachers. In both programs teachers received the same learning material and daily lesson plans, aligned to the official literacy curriculum. Pupils exposed to two years of the program improved their reading proficiency by 0.12 standard deviations if their teachers received centralized Training, compared to 0.24 if their teachers received in-class Coaching. Classroom observations reveal that teachers were more likely to split pupils into smaller reading groups, which enabled individualized attention and more opportunities to practice reading. Results vary by class size and baseline pupil reading proficiency.