While the relationship between the quality of teaching and student achievement has been well established during the last two decades (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Ladwig et. al. 2007; Rockoff, 2004), less clear is the extent to which this relationship can be strengthened through effective professional learning. In the Effective Implementation of Pedagogical Reform (EIPR) research study, participants engaged in Quality Teaching Rounds, an approach to professional development that maximised recognised conditions for effective professional learning, including adequate time for sustained engagement, collaboration with colleagues, reflection on practice, and a coherent framework to guide improvement (see Bowe, Gore and Elsworth 2010). Early analyses from this study identified a significant positive correlation between teachers' participation in the Quality Teaching Rounds intervention and the quality of their classroom teaching (Gore, Bowe & Miller 2012).
For this paper, we analysed differences in student achievement comparing students who were in the classes of teachers who participated in Quality Teaching Rounds and students whose teachers were not involved. The outcome measure used for this analysis is students' achievement in the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), based on multi-level modelling in which students' prior achievement, socio-economic status, race, sex and home language are taken as background variables. While recognising the limitations of external standardised test results of students as sole indicators of teaching quality, we draw on the work of Rockoff and Speroni (2010), who argued that objective job performance data (such as standardised student achievement data) has significant potential when considered together with subjective measures (such as our existing analyses of the quality of classroom practice) to inform discussions of teaching quality.
We argue that, if the goals of professional learning are enhanced teaching practice and enhanced student learning, Quality Teaching Rounds is one example of effective teacher professional learning that demonstrably yields these ends. We conclude this paper with discussion of the implications of our analyses for discussions of teaching quality and effective teacher professional learning.