A light bulb goes on in Baltimore

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The success of a pilot professional development program in Baltimore has taught school administrators what any teacher on the planet already knows: allowing teachers to work together offers better professional development than any $1,200-a-day consultant.

In implementing the MathWorks program, the district gave its teachers the time they needed to focus on curriculum, share what was working (or not) and examine student progress. The results appear extraordinary: 70 percent of 6th grade students whose teachers participated passed the state standardized math test, compared to 39 percent of their peers whose teachers did not participate.

That the subject was math was irrelevant. Says new CEO Andres Alonso, "I think it needs to be how professional development is done." Amen.