Research Shows PBS TeacherLine Helps Educators Increase Reading Achievement


After completing PBS TeacherLine professional development course, teachers see gains in students’ reading skills

Arlington, Va. (Dec. 13, 2011) – While past research has shown a connection between teacher professional development and teacher competency, the relationship between professional development and student achievement has been a bit unclear – until now. A two-year study conducted by Hezel Associates, LLC, indicates student reading achievement increased after their teachers completed a PBS TeacherLine® online professional development course. Students’ academic gains were higher in the treatment group than in the control group.

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The study examined the effects of the PBS TeacherLine Teaching Reading Fluency course on teacher and student learning. A report outlining the results of the study states, “the course had a positive impact on student learning outcomes.”

“Many teachers are dedicated to improving their teaching skills, but it can be difficult to translate what they learn in a professional development course into practical classroom applications that benefit students,” said Rob Lippincott, PBS senior vice president for education. “The results of this study show that teachers who participated in the PBS TeacherLine course were effectively prepared to take their new skills into their classrooms and improve student learning.”

PBS TeacherLine developed the Teaching Reading Fluency course, along with a suite of 80 other online graduate-level courses, with support from the Education Development Center (ED) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) through a federal grant. The goal of the course is to introduce educators to important research about teaching reading fluency and strategies for scaffolding instruction as students develop reading fluency. The course also aims to increase teachers’ comfort level with instructional technology to better integrate digital tools and resources into the classroom. Designed for elementary teachers, the course provides a blend of theory and practical applications specific to each individual teacher.

“Research-based techniques and pedagogical theory are the most critical grounding for teachers’ professional growth,” Lippincott said. “But the most important gains come when teachers are guided through course materials with an expert facilitator, are able to share best practices with their peers, and are provided with tangible tools and tactics that they can immediately use in their classroom. Students benefit when teachers are given these opportunities and that’s what this research shows.”

The study began in 2008 when PBS TeacherLine contracted Hezel Associates to determine the impact of PBS TeacherLine on academic achievement. From Sept. 2008 until Dec. 2010, Hezel Associates assessed the efficacy of Teaching Reading Fluency course with a focus on various teaching and learning outcomes. Data for the study came from content knowledge assessments, surveys, and oral reading fluency assessments. Nearly 500 students and 60 teachers participated in the study, which Hezel Associates constructed using experimental research design.

Previous research evaluating the efficacy of PBS TeacherLine courses has indicated a positive relationship between the courses and gains in teacher competency and confidence, but the latest Hezel research is the most compelling evidence to date that the professional development courses translate to learning gains among students.

For complete research results and details on the study, visit:, or download the Executive Summary (PDF, 225 KB) directly.

About PBS TeacherLine

PBS TeacherLine is committed to helping teachers acquire the skills they need to prepare students for a successful future. PBS TeacherLine provides high-quality, affordable professional development for preK-12 educators through facilitated, online courses, collaborative learning communities, and exemplary Internet-based resources. Currently, more than 100 courses across multiple subject areas are offered. Teachers can earn continuing education units, professional development points, and graduate credits for course completion. The courses have been developed in conjunction with leading education organizations, including the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), Concord Consortium, and International Society for Technology in Education. For more information, visit

About PBS

PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans – from every walk of life – the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 118 million people through television and nearly 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its Web site,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBSPressroom on Twitter.