How Curriculum And Professional Learning Intersect

By Stephanie Hirsh and Frederick Brown
February 2018
Vol. 39 No. 1
Research has found that high-quality curricula have a significant impact on student achievement (Steiner, 2017; Chingos & Whitehurst, 2012). But a curriculum is not effective on its own. It requires teachers who understand it and use it with intentionality and professional judgment. This means teachers who know the curriculum and their students well. It also means teachers who have the time and support to hone their practice collaboratively in a way that brings the curriculum alive and advances student learning (Wiener & Pimentel, 2017). Learning Forward will explore this critical topic deeply throughout our publications and at our institutes and Annual Conference. The two articles that follow are a key starting point. In the first, p. 57, Learning Forward Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh takes a

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Stephanie Hirsh and Frederick Brown

Stephanie Hirsh ( is executive director of Learning Forward.

Frederick Brown ( is deputy executive director of Learning Forward.


Chingos, M. & Whitehurst, G. (2012, April). Choosing blindly: Instructional materials, teacher effectiveness, and the Common Core. Washington, DC: Brown Center on Education Policy.

Steiner, D. (2017, March). Curriculum research: What we know and where we need to go. Standards Work, 1-13.

Wiener, R. & Pimentel, S. (2017, April 2). Practice what you teach: Connecting curriculum & professional learning in schools. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute.

Hirsh, S. & Crow, T. (2017). Becoming a learning team: A guide to a teacher-led cycle of continuous improvement. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward.

Instruction Partners. (2017). What does it take to implement a strong curriculum effectively? Nashville, TN: Author.

Kane, T., Owens, A., Marinell, W., Thal, D., & Staiger, D. (2016, February). Teaching higher: Educators’ perspectives on Common Core implementation. Cambridge, MA: Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University.

Opfer, V.D., Kaufman, J.H., & Thompson, L.E. (2016). Implementation of K-12 state standards for mathematics and English language arts and literacy. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corp.

Learning Forward. (2011). Standards for Professional Learning. Oxford, OH: Author.

National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2015). Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015. Reston, VA: Author.

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Stephanie Hirsh retired in June 2019 after 31 years with Learning Forward, an international association of more than 13,000 educators committed to increasing student achievement through effective professional learning. Hirsh led the organization as its executive director for the last 13 years where she presented, published, and consulted on Learning Forward’s behalf across North America.

Her books include Becoming a Learning Team, co-authored with Tracy Crow (Learning Forward, 2018), Becoming a Learning System, co-authored with Kay Psencik and Frederick Brown (Learning Forward, 2018); A Playbook for Professional Learning: Putting the Standards Into Action, co-authored with Shirley Hord (Learning Forward, 2012); and The Learning Educator: A New Era for Professional Learning, co-authored with Joellen Killion (NSDC, 2007).
Hirsh wrote a column for The Learning Professional, Learning Forward’s bimonthly magazine, Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, The Record, The School Administrator, American School Board Journal, The High School Magazine, and Education Week.
Hirsh has served on a number of advisory boards including Learning First Alliance, 2-Rev, Digital Promise, the University of Texas College of Education, and The Teaching Channel. She served three terms as a school board trustee in the Richardson (TX) Independent School District.
She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Staff Development Council, Master Trustee from the Texas School Board Association, and was named a Distinguished Alumna by the University of North Texas.

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Frederick Brown ( is Learning Forward’s deputy executive director.

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