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Take A Whole New Look At How To Use Resources


By Learning Forward
February 2016
Let’s investigate in detail the most powerful resource levers for improving instruction. The following strategies, incorporating our findings from district research, case studies, and research on best practices, provide school system leaders with proven options for monitoring, trading off, reallocating, and coordinating professional learning resources in ways that maximize teaching and learning. A system’s ability and desire to implement these strategies depend on its current funding, capacity, and context. Identifying strengths, needs, and current limitations helps systems determine which areas to prioritize in the short term and which will require adjustments to current policies and contracts in the future. A long-term perspective allows systems to tackle these levers for improving instruction, trading off and shifting precious resources in ways that, over time, balance the needs

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Karen Hawley Miles and Anna Sommers

Karen Hawley Miles is president and executive director of Education Resource Strategies. She has worked intensively with school systems nationwide to analyze and improve their funding systems, school-level resource use, and human capital and professional development systems.

Anna Sommers is a high school English teacher and former consultant at Education Resource Strategies, where she wrote about the strategic allocation of people, time, and dollars to improve student outcomes.

In their full essay for Reach the Highest Standard in Professional Learning: Resources, authors Karen Hawley Miles, top, and Anna Sommers note that more rigorous instructional requirements combined with tighter budgets challenge school systems to think more deliberately about where and how they invest in teaching effectiveness. They write that forward-thinking school sytems see adoption of a comprehensive, integrated approach to professional learning as necessary — but also fraught with challenges.

In this excerpt, they outline ways in which school systems can repurpose people, time, technology, and money to enhance professional learning and more effectively build and retain a powerful teaching force.

Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning.


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Education Resource Strategies. (2013b). Misfit structures & lost oppor­tunities. Watertown, MA: Author.

Education Resource Strategies. (2013c). Promising practices in professional growth & support: Case study of Agile Mind. Watertown, MA: Author.

Education Resource Strategies. (2013d). Promising practices in professional growth & support: Case study of Teach Plus. Watertown, MA: Author.

Hanushek, E.A. & Rivkin, S.G. (2007). Pay, working conditions, and teacher quality. The future of children, 17(1), 69-86.

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Larner, M. (2004). Pathways: Charting a course for professional learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Leana, C.R. (2011, Fall). The missing link in school reform. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 30-35.

Miles, K.H. (2002). Rethinking district professional development spending to support school improvement: Lessons from comparative spending analysis. Watertown, MA: Education Resource Strategies.

Miles, K.H. & Ferris, K. (2015). Designing schools that work: Organizing resources strategically for student success. Watertown, MA: Education Resource Strategies.

NSDC, NEA, AFT, & CCSSO. (2010). Advancing high-quality professional learning through collective bargaining and state policy. Oxford, OH: NSDC.

Shields, R.A. & Lewis, C. (2012). Rethinking the value proposition to improve teaching effectiveness. Watertown, MA: Education Resource Strategies.

Shields, R.A. & Miles, K.H. (2008). Strategic designs: Lessons from leading edge small urban high schools. Watertown, MA: Education Resource Strategies.

Suescun, M., Romer, T., & MacDonald, E. (2012, December). Buoyed on all sides: A network of support guides teacher leaders in high-needs schools. JSD, 33(6), 32-36.

Travers, J. & Christiansen, B. (2010). Strategic staffing for successful schools: Breaking the cycle of failure in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Watertown, MA: Education Resource Strategies.

von Frank, V. (2008, November). The gift of time. The Learning Principal, 4(3), 1, 6-7.

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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.

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