District leaders leverage powerful professional learning to solve critical student learning challenges

DALLAS – May 12, 2016 – Learning Forward has launched the Redesign PD Community of Practice to support 20 of the nation’s leading school districts and charter management organizations in addressing systemwide educator and student learning priorities. The community engages teams from the districts in identifying their local professional learning challenges and then creating scalable solutions. Learning Forward serves as the facilitator and coordinator of the community, offering expertise and support during face-to-face and virtual meetings.


The community provides focus, guidance, and shared accountability to the participating systems to make dramatic improvements to their professional development systems. Collectively, the participating systems enroll more than 5% of the public school students in the country and the community offers a strong path to improving professional learning at a national scale. Further, Learning Forward will capture and publish lessons learned and tools from the community to share with the broader field of education, especially to Learning Forward’s more than 50,000 members and stakeholders.

“Equitable access to powerful teaching remains one of our nation’s critical challenges,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “While we know that effective professional learning is the means to increase that access, we haven’t found the answer for ensuring that all teachers in all systems experience the learning that will help them reach and teach all students. I’m excited that our district partners in this community are joining with us to create solutions that will work both locally and across multiple contexts.”

Many of the school districts participating in the community of practice have already created professional learning innovations and programs that result in changes in educator practice and improvements in student learning. They have received funding support for their past work from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also funds the Redesign PD Community of Practice. The community assists systems in not only building upon previous successes but also examining what works and what doesn’t to support teachers in continually improving their practice in implementing rigorous college- and career-ready standards.

Over the course of 18 months, district teams in the community of practice engage in continuous improvement cycles to improve how they manage their professional learning systems, with each team conducting multiple inquiry cycles to propel rapid learning and improvement. Complementing this inquiry work are opportunities to problem solve collectively with other districts in the community. District teams serve as critical friends to one another, sharing expertise and demanding mutual accountability.

The districts and CMOs participating in the Redesign PD Community of Practice are:

Aspire Public Schools
Bridgeport Public Schools (Conn.)
District of Columbia Public Schools
Denver Public Schools
Fresno Unified School District (Calif.)
Fulton County Schools (Ga.)
Hillsborough County Public Schools (Fla.)
Jefferson County Public Schools (Colo.)
Knox County Schools (Tenn.)
Lake County Schools (Fla.)
Long Beach Public Schools (Calif.)
Loudon County Schools (Tenn.)
New Haven Public Schools (Conn.)
New York City Department of Education
Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pa.)
Prince George’s County Public Schools (Md.)
Riverside Unified School District (Calif.)
Syracuse City School District (N.Y.)
Shelby County Schools (Tenn.)
Tulsa Public Schools (Okla.)

“The sheer volume of expertise in this community gives me such confidence that we’ll find really practical solutions for learning leaders,” noted Hirsh. She added, “These district innovators navigate an extraordinary number of priorities to focus on what will ultimately make a difference for students. It’s a very complex task and I’m proud of the role the community will play in moving everyone forward.”

Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.