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Open Access Capstone

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This research explores the effectiveness of three teacher professional development (TPD) approaches in the context of Afghanistan: 2-year in-service teacher education; short-term (ad-hoc) teacher training; and teacher learning circles (TLC). In this research, I compare these three models, their impact on improving teacher quality and subsequently student outcome. I applied the mix-methods approach by using three different research tools: classroom observations, self-administered questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. I also reviewed student performance records over four semesters; from 2010 to 2011. Despite many challenges, the results show three core strengths of each of these models: the 2-year in-service teacher education improves teachers’ subject knowledge; the short-term training (focusing on specific subjects, grades, and groups of teachers) increases teachers’ pedagogic skills; and TLCs provide teachers with ongoing learning opportunities inside their schools through which teachers find help to address their day-to-day classroom needs. The findings suggest TLCs to be embedded in the school and teacher education (in-service program) structure; teachers to be provided with short-term professional development trainings focused on specific groups of teachers, as well as to conduct continuous teacher evaluation based on teachers’ performance and their students’ achievements. The overall result of this research challenges the underlying assumptions of the Ministry of Education (MOE) related to teacher change. It also critiques the approaches so far undertaken by the MOE for improving teacher quality in the country.