For decades, EDC’s educational research, curriculum development, and teacher training work has been driven by this core belief: Improving teaching is central to improving student learning. A resource called Success at the Core shows how research-based, professional development materials may be used to empower teachers to transform their instruction and inspire student achievement.
Created by EDC and the Seattle-based media production company Vulcan Productions, Success at the Core is an award-winning online professional development toolkit that helps school leadership teams and teachers improve classroom instruction and student outcomes. Educators are encouraged to learn in each other’s company so the strategies stick, and immediate online access to the materials makes it easier for busy teachers to fit training into their schedules.
“There’s a lot of attention given to job-embedded professional development,” says EDC’s Barbara Miller, who manages the project. “For professional development to take root and have an impact, it can’t just be a once-a-year inoculation. It needs to be more constant and done in the company of people you work with.”
Several elements make Success at the Core effective:
- Videos show educators what specific classroom instruction strategies look like and what teams do when they are focused on improving instruction. Videos of real educators in real classrooms and schools were shot in Washington State.
- Educators can access the materials online for free, so they can learn on their own schedules without taking time off from school or taxing school budgets.
- The toolkit’s video, print, and online materials may be tailored by leadership teams and teachers to fit their needs.
- The toolkit encourages school leadership teams to adopt and embrace the instructional approaches and practices, so teachers within a school can share ideas and support each other.
“Success at the Core puts emphasis on ways teachers can engage in professional development together, during the school day,” says Miller. Teacher development materials present 24 strategies for effective content, instruction, assessment, and classroom support. In addition, seven leadership development modules empower teams to support professional development, instructional improvement, and new programming at their schools.
“These materials are available on demand, 24/7, 365 days a year,” says Miller. “That means when teachers have time to do professional development together, the materials are ready to go.”
EDC co-developed Success at the Core with Vulcan Productions and with funding from philanthropist Paul G. Allen and the Stuart Foundation. Success at the Core was filmed and pilot tested in Washington State.
Since its public launch in July 2010, Success at the Core has taken flight—achieving greater success than its developers anticipated. More than 5,000 educators in 48 states are registered members of Success at the Core, along with educators in 20 other countries. “This phenomenal growth has exceeded our expectations,” explains Miller. “It’s the high quality of the video materials and the online accessibility that’s attracting educators to Success at the Core.” The materials were developed with counsel and support from Learning Forward, the National Education Association (NEA), and the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness.
Success at the Core has won a number of awards, including:
- 2011 Best Educational Software (BESSIE) Award for “Best Professional Development Website”
- 2011 Golden Lamp Award for “Best Professional Development” from the Association of Education Publishers
- Remi Award at the 44th Annual WorldFest Houston International Film Festival in the “Television, Cable and Web-based Productions’ Education” category
“One key difference between effective and less effective schools is the quality of instruction students receive,” says Miller. “Quality of teaching matters. Content needs to engage and support students to learn in rigorous ways. Even in tight economic times, teachers can advance their learning and make the best use of their time. Success at the Core offers an answer.”
Originally published on October 26, 2011