Why these standards matter for you (yes, you)

By Paul Fleming
Categories: Fundamentals, Implementation, Standards for Professional Learning
June 2022

“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 this question remains pertinent as Learning Forward releases revised standards.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Voices-why-these-standards-matter-for-you-yes-you-a-300x204

The short answer is that Standards for Professional Learning set the bar for high-quality professional learning by defining the rigorous content, transformational processes, and conditions for success so that each educator experiences high-quality professional learning and each student engages in high-quality learning.

The central equity issue confronting public education right now is the need for a diverse, well-trained, and stable teacher and leader workforce equitably distributed across all states, communities, districts, and schools. A high-quality professional learning system aligned to Standards for Professional Learning can accelerate policies and practices for solving these equity challenges.

The challenges of the past 2½ years during COVID-19 have heightened the urgency for such a system. Educators at all levels are working harder than ever to meet the needs of their students despite sometimes daunting and ever-changing conditions.

In my conversations with school, district, and state leaders across the country, I see and hear that they understand the importance of equipping themselves and their colleagues with the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to accelerate student growth and reduce the opportunity gaps that can derail their most underserved students at this critical time. They also understand they cannot do this work alone or in silos.

Many educators express to me this common and recurring hope: To be part of a collaborative and supportive system in which everyone is rowing in the same direction toward common goals undergirded by equitable and evidence-based policies, programs, and practices that accelerate excellent teaching and student outcomes.

Standards for Professional Learning, and the tools that accompany them, provide direction and guidance to steer the boat in that direction. They detail key roles and responsibilities for educators at all levels to help ensure that the standards are applied in a systemic way.

In the table below lists specific examples of how stakeholders at multiple levels can apply the newly revised standards to improve professional learning.

For a larger image of this table, download the pdf of this article.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Voices-why-these-standards-matter-for-you-yes-you-b-241x300

Download pdf here.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Paul-fleming-250x300-1
+ posts

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.

Categories: Fundamentals, Implementation, Standards for Professional Learning

The Learning Professional

Published Date


  • Recent Issues

    December 2023

    Professional learning can open up new roles and challenges and help...

    October 2023

    Both special education and general education teachers need support to help...

    August 2023

    Prioritizing professional learning time is an investment in educators and...

    June 2023

    Acceleration aims to ensure all students overcome learning gaps to do...

    Skip to content