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Paul Fleming

Paul Fleming serves as chief learning officer at Learning Forward. His current areas of focus include leading the effective implementation of the revised Standards for Professional Learning and corresponding tools, the expansion of our professional services and leadership and learning series teams, and multiple consulting projects with states and districts to increase educator and leader effectiveness through equity-focused, high-quality professional learning. Prior to joining Learning Forward, he served as the assistant commissioner for the Teachers and Leaders Division at the Tennessee Department of Education. He was responsible for the design, implementation, evaluation, and support of impactful policies, practices, and programs related to teacher and leader preparation institutions, licensure, evaluation and development, and educator talent.

Examples of work Paul led included the revision and implementation of the current state leadership standards and administrator evaluation rubric, the Tennessee Teacher Leader Network comprised of 62 districts, the Tennessee Transformational Leadership Alliance that fostered nine innovative principal pipeline models with 23 districts across the state, and a three-year micro-credential pilot with 800+ teachers designed to increase personalized professional learning opportunities aligned to the state evaluation model. He also led the development of the Tennessee Leaders for Equity Playbook described in this Wallace Foundation blog post that features seven equity commitments, all selected for their strong research base that correlates with improved student outcomes, and corresponding actions for school, district, school board, and community members.

Before joining the department in 2012, he was a social studies teacher at the middle and high school levels and principal at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School in Nashville, TN. Hume-Fogg has been ranked as one of the top 50 public high schools in the United States since 2006 and was named a national Blue Ribbon School (2011) by the US Department of Education.

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    Principals are a critical lever for implementing schoolwide policies, practices, and mindsets that create equitable outcomes for all students (Gates et al., 2019; Grissom et al., 2021). Yet school systems often overlook the kind of high-quality professional learning that results in leaders’ growth and development.  Learning Forward networks are one […]
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    Since the release of the revised Standards for Professional Learning in April, Learning Forward has been providing resources and support for educators to adopt and implement the standards in a variety of contexts and roles. The 2011 iteration of the standards was formally adopted in 20 U.S. states, and 15 […]
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    “How can Standards for Professional Learning help me and my schools?” I remember being asked this question by a principal supervisor in 2014 when, as assistant commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Education, I was rolling out guidance and professional learning for administrators on the standards. Fast-forward to 2022, and […]
  • In celebration of Learning Forward’s April 25th release of its revised Standards for Professional Learning, we are pleased to provide you with this special briefing that will focus on how these standards can and should strengthen federal education policy and investment around professional learning. You will hear from policymakers, researchers, […]
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     Learning Forward’s Professional Learning State and District Planner ( is a guide to help state, district, and school leaders implement professional learning to support high-quality curriculum and instructional materials. Grounded in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) definition of high-quality professional learning as intensive, data-driven, job-embedded, and classroom-focused, the planner […]
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    In the October 2018 issue of The Learning Professional, Courageous Conversation founder Glenn Singleton reminded us not to engage in “random acts of equity.” Consistent with that message, Learning Forward aspires to develop a comprehensive approach to equity. In recent months, Learning Forward has developed an equity position statement to […]
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