Standards for professional learning

August 2011
Vol. 32 No. 4

Introducing a new approach to standards that can transform teaching and learning in schools.


The Learning Professional

Published Date

In This Issue


When leaders value standards, they create effective work cultures

As a principal of a high-poverty campus, I am always on the lookout for additional funds. As I’ve mentioned before, I am fortunate to work with outstanding teacher leaders who are continually learning. We learn from each other, the students, parents, books, workshops, experts, and, on rare occasions, from the business world. As I consider the...


Coaching, teaching standards, and feedback mark the teacher’s road to mastery.

 Cultural Proficiency

The effectiveness of professional development aimed at increasing cultural awareness among teachers depends on matching the needs of teachers to the appropriate approach. For the last 10 years, we have been conducting research on educators’ beliefs about diversity, their level of cultural knowledge, and application of that knowledge to practice. Our findings indicate teachers have varying...


New standards put the spotlight on professional learning. By Hayes Mizell, Shirley Hord, Joellen Killion, and Stephanie Hirsh  Learning Forward introduces new Standards for Professional Learning outlining the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results. A focus on learning ensures that learning for educators leads to...

 New Standards put the spotlight on professional learning

Today’s educators work under tre- mendous pressure. They are held accountable for preparing all stu- dents to meet increasingly rigor- ous academic standards. They must enable all students to per- form at levels of proficiency, even those students without the preparation, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for optimal learning. In spite of profound demographic, economic, cultural,...

MetLife Foundation supports standards

Learning Forward has received a $500,000 grant from MetLife Foundation to disseminate and implement its newly revised Standards for Professional Learning. Forty professional associations and education organizations contributed to the revision of the standards following extensive re-search and input from educators and policymakers worldwide. MetLife Foundation also provided funding for the research and development of the...

From the editor

We released our new Standards for Professional Learning a month ago and are so excited to share them with members and the field.You’ll read in these pages about why we published new standards,why now, and what it means for schools, districts, service organizations, and agencies at all levels. We’re taking this opportunity to use JSD...

 Content-focused learning improves teacher practice and student results

Content focus and coherence are fundamental to professional devel- opment that helps teachers boost student learning. Learning Forward’s Outcomes standard emphasizes that teacher learning should be focused on subject-matter content and how students learn that content, and consistent with the in- dividual, school, and district factors that shape teachers’ work lives. Several key scholars have helped...

 Forge a commitment to authentic professional learning

All work to improve the quality of profes- sional development must begin with one simple assumption: Teaching is an incredibly complex profession that draws on a wide set of intellectual and emotional skills. Even the best teachers need to continue to learn and improve their practice, and many are willing to do so. The bottom line...


One indisputable finding from our years of research on what it takes to conduct successful change in schools and colleges is this: Introducing new practices alone seldom results in new practices being incorporated into ongoing classroom practices. For example, we were dismayed at the recent release of two substantive studies of professional development (to support...

Districts can take a powerful first step by adopting the new Standards for Professional Le

We’re so proud that we’ve  just released the Standards for Professional Learning. The previous version of standards was adopted or adapted into policy in more than 30 states; however, only four or five districts did the same. We know that most professional learning decisions are made at the local level, and that the standards can influence those decisions. I’d like to ask...

 Learning Designs

Designers reside mostly in school districts and schools and can have primary assignments of all sorts. In many districts, central office personnel are most visible on design committees, but teachers, principals, and superintendents are included. Members of professional learning communities can design their own processes, and individual teachers can, too. States do also. National organizations...

Learning communities

 Learning communities are best defined as “ongoing groups … who meet regularly for the purposes of increasing their own learning and that of their students“ (Lieberman & Miller, 2008, p. 2). Although learning communities vary in form and context, they share some fundamental core beliefs and values. Based on the idea that educators can learn...


The dollars and sense of comprehensive professional learning.


Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning have the potential to influence educational policy and practice in profound ways for the systems that are courageous enough to take them seriously, and the Data standard is a critical element systemwide. Schools are overwhelmed with data warehouses, colorful charts and graphs, and endless PowerPoint presentations. The millions of...

 If we open our minds, we can close the generation gap in the workplace

The effectiveness of professional development aimed at increasing cultural awareness among teachers depends on matching the needs of teachers to the appropriate approach. For the last 10 years, we have been conducting research on educators’ beliefs about diversity, their level of cultural knowledge, and application of that knowledge to practice. Our findings indicate teachers have...

 Standards policy action guide

Full implementation of the new Standards for Professional Learning will require individuals and teams of education leaders to become advocates for effective professional learning and to advance policy changes required to adopt the new standards or to revise the existing policies that address the 2001 edition of Standards for Staff Development. This guide is designed...


 “Everyone has a stake in the education of our children … [and] people who work in schools and people who study schools know that leadership makes a difference” (Wahlstrom, Louis, Leithwood, & Anderson, 2010, p. 32).  The critical role that leadership plays in student learning is documented in a six-year research study funded by The...

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June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed school as we know it. As we face an unpredictable future, professional learning has never been more urgent. This issue highlights some of the ways educators are learning and evolving to meet the shifting needs of students and staff as schools close, shift online, reopen, and prepare for whatever lies ahead.

April 2020

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February 2020

Student needs are at the center of strong professional learning and excellent teaching, but student voices rarely are. This issue examines how students’ perspectives can inform professional learning and what educators can gain as a result. It goes straight to the source to share insights from student authors as well as educators.