Studying the Impact of Teacher Choice in Professional Learning—An Evaluation of the Math Instructor Professional Learning Autonomous Network (MiPLAN)


Typical approaches to professional learning are often driven by district or campus priorities, rather than by the individual needs of teachers. Adult learning and motivation theories emphasize the importance of allowing teachers autonomy over their own learning. Moreover, teachers may have the best understanding of what kind of learning would benefit them most, given their own backgrounds and in light of the specific students that they serve.

AIR has partnered with the Texas Center for Educator Excellence (TxCEE) housed at Region 18 Education Service Center on a study to test the hypothesis that teachers and students will benefit when teachers are able to select the professional learning that they feel is best suited to their needs. Specifically, the Math Instructor Professional Learning Autonomous Network (MiPLAN) allows teachers who provide math instruction in Grades 3–8 to select professional learning opportunities aligned with their needs and to receive financial support to participate in their selected professional learning. The teacher-selected learning activities should count toward at least 80% of state-required annual time for professional learning.

To examine implementation of the program and its impacts on teacher and student outcomes, AIR randomly assigned 54 schools in Texas across two cohorts to either participate in MiPLAN or continue with business-as-usual professional learning during the 2022–23 and 2023–24 school years. The goal of the project is to learn about program implementation to inform continuous improvement and to determine the impact of MiPLAN on teachers’ attitudes and beliefs (including how ready and motivated teachers are to learn and their satisfaction with their professional learning), on teachers’ math instruction, and on students’ math achievement. To answer our research questions, we are conducting teacher and administrator interviews, administering teacher surveys, conducting video-based observations of math lessons, and obtaining student achievement scores on the Texas state math assessment.

Our initial findings based on implementation during the 2022–23 school year suggest that MiPLAN was well received by teachers. In particular, there was widespread agreement that MiPLAN allowed teachers access to high-quality professional learning experiences. However, the extent to which teachers were actually able to choose their professional learning was less clear.

Next Steps

Cohort 2 schools and teachers are implementing the MiPLAN program during the 2023–24 school year. We look forward to sharing our implementation findings for Cohort 2 and our findings on the impact of the MiPLAN program on teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, on teachers’ classroom practice, and on students’ math achievement for both cohorts!