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Repetita Iuvant? Lessons from repeated RCTs on the effectiveness of a teacher professional development program


This work summarizes the results of two RCTs aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of a professional development program for lower secondary school math teachers. The program, called , was financed by the Ministry of Education in Southern Italy using EU funds. It lasts a full school year and it is based on formal and on-line tutoring providing alternative methods for teaching traditional math contents. The program and its evaluation were both held at scale, allowing for the observation and the evaluation of a program facing the real constraints of everyday school life; a situation pretty far from a fancy implementation in an artificial setting. This situation, along with the replication of the RCT on two consecutive cohorts of teachers, provides several opportunities and challenges.
The main outcome variable is student math achievement, but the effects of the program on student attitudes are also explored. A big effort in the collection of monitoring data was planned in the evaluation design phase, allowing for the possibility to study various implementation aspects along with the counterfactual analyses of the impact of the program over three years.
Changes in the effectiveness of the program were detected from the first to second RCT. They are interpreted in the light of changes in some features of the program. Implications for both policy and research practice in Italy are discussed.

Aline Pennisi
Short bio: 

Aline Pennisi is a public policy analyst, working at the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. She graduated in Statistics and holds a PhD in Operations Research from the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. She has published several articles in national and international journals on topics related to public finance, education and electoral studies, and actively promotes open data and civic monitoring projects.

17 September 2015 - 17:00

IRVAPP - Vicolo dalla Piccola 12 - Trento