The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes

The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes explores District of Columbia Public Schools’ innovative approach to supporting teaching instruction, called Learning Together to Advance our Practice, or LEAP. Based on research that has found the most effective professional learning is school-based and content-specific, LEAP is grounded in the instructional materials and strategies that teachers will use with their students.

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Beyond Barriers

Beyond Barriers: Encouraging Teacher Use of Feedback Resources

What leads teachers to use new technology products or services to improve their practice? Learning Forward recently concluded a study that investigated factors that drive teachers to embrace or challenge the use of products and services designed to support improvements in practice.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: The Role of Technology for Teacher and Student Learning

Understand how teachers use technology to implement Common Core, increase their instructional effectiveness, and support student learning. This brief describes the experiences of a small group of Kentucky teachers who participated in a study in which they applied technology solutions to support their own learning and that of their students. The brief includes several general observations about technology use based on the study, as well as recommendations for action for those in various roles.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Professional Learning Required

An informative brief on the critical role that professional learning plays in implementing content standards. Outlining a vision for educators supported through high-quality professional learning, the brief describes elements of effective professional learning as well as recommendations for action for educators at the federal, state, system, school, and individual level.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Investing in Professional Learning

This brief details the critical attributes of professional learning necessary to achieve the vision of Common Core standards, and addresses the need for long-term commitment and resource investments from the nation and each state to achieve that vision. The brief explores calls attention to the urgent need for schools, districts, states, regional and national education agencies, and education vendors to change the allocation and application of professional learning resources. It also recommends new investments for states, districts, and school leaders to make in professional learning.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Tapping Technology to Enhance Professional Learning

More stakeholders are turning to technology to advance the professional learning required to support new standards and evaluation systems. Yet how technology is used will determine its potential to influence educator practice and results for students. This brief outlines how technology can enhance professional learning, offers examples of how technology is being used to meet the demand generated by Common Core standards, provides guidelines for selecting and using technology as a resource for professional learning, and identifies common challenges and ways to avoid them.

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Seizing the Moment: State Lessons for Transforming Professional Learning

Explore this first look at lessons learned through Learning Forward’s ongoing initiative to develop a comprehensive system of professional learning that spans the distance from the statehouse to the classroom. This policy brief underscores the importance of a coordinated state professional learning strategy, the adoption of professional learning standards, the value of assessing the quality of professional development being used, and strategies for leveraging state leadership to drive improvements at the regional and district level.

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Professional Learning Policy Review: A Workbook for States and Districts

Designed to assist states and districts in conducting a self-guided review of current professional learning policies, this workbook presents a six-phase process for the review and includes 29 tools to facilitate the entire process as well as links to resources for accessing and studying professional learning policies. The tools include recommendations for leadership team members, meeting agendas, protocols, analysis guides, report outlines, and follow-up timelines.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: The Principal

Explore the critical role the principal plays in implementing the Common Core standards. In addition to outlining five key priorities principals address in any transformational change, the brief describes the specific actions principals take in standards implementation and the district support they require. The brief concludes with the challenges principals face and highlights recommendations for actions at the state, system, and school levels to ensure relevant policies, resources, and cultures are in place.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: The Role of Third-Party Providers

At a time when resource- and service-providers are proliferating and educators are challenged to identify appropriate instructional resources, this brief explores how district and state leaders can engage with third-party providers as partners. In particular, it describes how educators and developers can work together to find or create resources aimed at educating every student to meet rigorous content standards and supporting every educator to achieve high performance through continuous professional learning.

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School-based Professional Learning for Implementing the Common Core

Explore four units created to help principals and teacher leaders develop their capacity to facilitate school-based collaborative professional learning. Complete with background information, tools, slides, and handouts, the four modules cover key topics in leading professional learning tied to implementing content standards: Managing change, Facilitating learning teams, and Learning designs, and Standards for Professional Learning.

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Establishing Time for Professional Learning

Finding time for job-embedded professional learning is one of the most frequently cited challenges with implementing the Common Core State Standards. The processes and tools in this workbook will provide educators, parents, and community leaders with resources to increase or refine the use of time for educator collaboration to achieve goals associated with any key initiative.

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Professional Learning Initiative Analysis: A Workbook for States and Districts

Given what system leaders must accomplish with limited resources, they must make bold decisions about their current investments to achieve high-priority goals related to implementing college- and career-ready standards. This workbook is designed to guide users through a five-step process of understanding what professional learning is available in their system; what is known about it; how it contributes to achieving the system’s goals; and what actions leaders might consider to increase the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of professional learning.

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Comprehensive Professional Learning System: A Workbook for States and Districts

This workbook guides a team in reviewing, revising, or replacing an existing professional learning system. The process outlined and the tools included support the team in conducting all aspects of its work, usually done over several months, with continuous progress monitoring and input from research, experts, and constituents. The workbook is designed to be used by leaders in education agencies, including state departments or ministries of education, local school systems, and other governing agencies or organizations that provide professional learning.

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Professional Learning Plans: A Workbook for States, Districts, and Schools

Professional learning plans establish short- and long-term guidance for professional learning and its implementation. This workbook offers information and tools to walk educators through seven planning steps, from data analysis to setting goals to identifying learning designs to monitoring impact. Effective plans help individuals, schools, districts, and states to coordinate learning experiences designed to achieve outcomes for educators and students.

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Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Developing a Comprehensive Learning System

Introduce stakeholders at any level to the concept of a comprehensive professional learning system with our latest brief, created with the support of the Sandler Foundation in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers. Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Developing a Comprehensive Professional Learning System provides an introduction to an infrastructure for developing individual, school, team, and school system capacities needed to ensure success for all educators and their students. This resource is drawn from the complete workbook Comprehensive Professional Learning System: A Workbook for States and Districts.

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The State of Teacher Professional Learning

In the interest of starting a national conversation about the type and quality of professional learning teachers experience, Corwin, the National Education Association, and Learning Forward invited teachers nationwide to voice their opinions about their professional learning. More than 6,300 teachers from across the United States responded.

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Micro-credentials for Impact: Holding Professional Learning to High Standards

Co-published by Learning Forward and Digital Promise, this paper seeks to chart a course for leveraging a micro-credentialing system to enable more educators to achieve the potential of professional learning. The paper uses the Standards for Professional Learning as a frame to provide guidance to everyone involved in micro-credentials to ensure that learners experience the research-based elements of professional learning essential to achieving ambitious outcomes for students.

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The State of Educators’ Professional Learning in Canada: Executive Summary

By Carol Campbell, Pamela Osmond-Johnson, Brenton Faubert, Kenneth Zeichner, and Audrey Hobbs-Johnson, with Sherri Brown, Paula DaCosta, Anne Hales, Larry Kuehn, Jacqueline Sohn, and Karen Steffensen

This executive summary showcases the research questions addressed in the study, summarizes findings and conditions for professional learning in Canada, and concludes with implications for next steps. Examples of professional learning practices from various provinces highlight learning in action across the nation.

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The State of Educators’ Professional Learning in Canada: Final Research Report

By Carol Campbell, Pamela Osmond-Johnson, Brenton Faubert, Kenneth Zeichner, and Audrey Hobbs-Johnson, with Sherri Brown, Paula DaCosta, Anne Hales, Larry Kuehn, Jacqueline Sohn, and Karen Steffensen

This research report summarizes the evidence, experiences, and examples of educators’ professional learning in Canada, with details from the provinces and territories. The report also showcases the research questions addressed in the study, summarizes findings and conditions for professional learning in Canada, and concludes with implications for next steps. Examples of professional learning practices from various provinces highlight learning in action across the nation.

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Bringing the Profession Back In

By Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves

In this call to action building on the Canada study, Fullan and Hargreaves outline an argument for meaningful professional learning and development. They conclude with actions for teachers, systems, and Canada to take to establish a culture of collaborative professionalism.

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The State of Educators’ Professional Learning in British Columbia: Executive Summary

By Sherri Brown, Anne Hales, Larry Kuehn, and Karen Steffensen

Several education organizations formed the British Columbia Education Collaborative, which undertook a comprehensive analysis of British Columbia’s education system and the state of professional learning in the province.This executive summary offers an overview of this analysis and raises questions for further exploration and consideration.

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The State of Educators’ Professional Learning in British Columbia: Case Study

By Sherri Brown, Anne Hales, Larry Kuehn, and Karen Steffensen

Several education organizations formed the British Columbia Education Collaborative, which undertook a comprehensive analysis of British Columbia’s education system and the state of professional learning in the province.This case study offers the details of this analysis with examples from across the province and raises questions for further exploration and consideration.

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The State of Educators’ Professional Learning in Alberta: Case Study

By Pamela Osmond-Johnson, Ken Zeichner, and Carol Campbell

Explore the details of educators’ professional learning in Alberta in this case study, which analyzes teachers’ experiences and the system conditions that sustain them. The case study draws upon the voices of educators and representatives from relevant organizations to synthesize findings. Multiple examples from across the province are included.

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Professional Learning in Canada

Coinciding with the 2016 Annual Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Learning Forward commissioned and supported a study of professional learning across the nation of Canada.

A research team led by Carol Campbell, Associate Professor of Leadership and Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, examined the professional learning that educators experience in the provinces and territories of Canada. The study identifies key components and features of effective professional learning and highlights findings from what educators in the nation experience.

Included here are reports and papers resulting from the study. More will be shared as they are completed.

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A Systemic Approach to Elevating Teacher Leadership

By Joellen Killion, Cindy Harrison, Amy Colton, Chris Bryan, Ann Delehant, and Debbie Cooke

Created for leaders or leadership teams interested in initiating, expanding or assessing and revising approaches to teacher leadership within schools or school systems, this report offers a set of guiding questions for each of four core components of a systemic approach to teacher leadership.

The report’s team of authors, Joellen Killion, Cindy Harrison, Amy Colton, Chris Bryan, Ann Delehant, and Debbie Cooke, emphasize that teacher leadership, to have its greatest impact, must be contextually defined and operationalized within conditions unique to every school district and deeply embedded in the day-to-day work of teachers and administrators.

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Coaching for Impact: Six Pillars to Create Coaching Roles That Achieve Their Potential to Improve Teaching and Learning

By Learning Forward, the University of Florida Lastinger Center, and Public Impact

Despite decades of efforts to support teachers with coaching, most teachers still do not get the support they need in their own classrooms. Yet most teachers, including experienced ones, need support to continue to evolve professionally, hone their practice, and use new tools. This support is most powerful when offered routinely and on the job by skilled professionals.

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Facilitator Guide for Beyond PD: Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems

By Joellen Killion

This resource suggests ways for unpacking and applying findings from the study to assist education leaders, policy makers, and decision makers in improving the quality of professional learning in schools. With more than 35 tools, the guide offers multiple entry points into the latest knowledge from the field, focusing stakeholders on practical implications and next steps.

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Evidence of Effectiveness

By Nancy Ames Slabine

Explore the impact of Learning Forward’s work. The organization has accumulated a body of evidence that its programs and services are linked to improved professional development policy and practice at state, district, and school levels. The organization also has found evidence that implementing these policies and practices can lead to improved school climate, curriculum, assessment, instruction, and student achievement. Read about Learning Forward’s theory of action and products and services, and understand the organization’s in-depth work through case studies at the state and district levels.

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Building Professional Development to Support New Student Assessment Systems

By Stephanie Hirsh

Authored by Stephanie Hirsh, this white paper for Arabella Philanthropic Advisors is one of several on school reform topics by noted authors. New assessment systems will provide teachers with significant new opportunities to guide all students toward college and career readiness. To benefit from such assessments, states will need to be more thoughtful than they have been in the past about conceiving, organizing, managing, implementing, and evaluating effective professional development. The paper offers eight recommendations to help rebuild professional development infrastructure to support these systems.

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Phase IV: Building a Learning Community: A Tale of Two Schools

In an effort to understand and document the elements that make professional learning communities effective, a new report presents case studies of two schools drawn from survey data of 33 New Jersey public schools involved in a state-sponsored professional learning community training program. The report, Building a Learning Community: A Tale of Two Schools, is authored by Dan Mindich and Ann Lieberman and produced through Learning Forward and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE). Among the key findings: sustaining focus is vital, collegiality is not enough, and leadership is key. This is the final report from the multiphase research initiative, Status of Professional Learning.

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Phase III: Teacher Professional Learning in the United States: Case Studies of State Policies and Strategies

Policy shapes practices, and the increasingly important realm of professional development is no exception. To identify effective professional development policies and strategies, the Stanford University research team examined the policy frameworks supporting high levels of professional development activity in four states in Phase III of the multiyear research study.

The states—Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, and Vermont—were identified as “professionally active” based on evidence of high levels of teacher participation in professional development in the 2008 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, and the teacher surveys associated with the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); a reputation in the literature for enacting reforms that are consistent with the research based on “effective” professional development; and improvements in student achievement as measured in the 2009 NAEP.

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Phase II: Professional Development in the United States: Trends and Challenges

The report from Phase II of this multiyear research initiative examines the status of professional learning in the United States. The findings indicate that the nation is making some progress in providing increased support and mentoring for new teachers. However, the study also reveals that teachers’ opportunities for the kind of ongoing, intensive professional learning that research shows has a substantial impact on student learning are decreasing.

Researchers examined 2008 data from the federal government’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and other sources. The report also includes assessments of each state on the quality of their professional development across 11 indicators that comprise a newly developed Professional Development Access Index.

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Phase I: Professional Learning in the Learning Profession

In 2009, NSDC released Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. This report examines what research has revealed about professional learning that improves teachers’ practice and student learning. The report describes the availability of such opportunities in the United States and high-achieving nations around the world, which have been making substantial and sustained investments in professional learning for teachers over the last two decades. Funding for the multiyear research effort comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MetLife Foundation, NSDC, and The Wallace Foundation.

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Status of Professional Learning

By Learning Forward and Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education

Launched in 2008 by NSDC and a team of researchers from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), the three-part Status of Professional Learning research study aims to measure the effectiveness of professional learning in the United States. Funding for the multiyear research effort comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Why Professional Development Matters

By Hayes Mizell

Written for parents, community members, and policy makers by Learning Forward’s senior distinguished fellow, this booklet explains in fundamental terms what professional development is and why it is an important school improvement strategy.

This series of Q-and-As is useful for helping audiences outside of education to understand this critical topic. Download the publication to share at board meetings or community gatherings. Share copies with local, state, and federal policy makers in your advocacy work.

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Advancing High-Quality Professional Learning through Collective Bargaining and State Policy

By NSDC, NEA, AFT, and CCSSO

Through collective bargaining agreements and state policies, local school districts and states establish the conditions, resources, and processes for professional learning that strengthen teaching and student learning. Learning Forward, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Education Association (NEA) formed a national partnership to share collective bargaining agreements and state policies that support high-quality professional learning for every teacher. Read this report to explore specific policies and recommendations for future actions.

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Job-Embedded Professional Development: What It Is, Who Is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well

By Andrew Croft, Jane G. Coggshall, Megan Dolan, Elizabeth Powers, with Joellen Killion

Prepared collaboratively by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, and NSDC, this issue brief strives to define job-embedded professional development, identify who is responsible for it, and describe how to implement it.

The brief includes research base, practical examples, and recommendations for districts, schools, and other education agencies either implementing or advocating for this powerful form of professional learning.

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Teacher Professional Development Evaluation Guide

By M. Bruce Haslam of Policy Studies Associates

This guide offers succinct recommendations for more frequent and more rigorous evaluation of teacher professional development to improve both the quality of professional learning and its results. Developed originally under contracts with Harford County Public Schools and the Maryland State Department of Education, this report assists schools and districts to evaluate the impact of teacher professional development on teaching practice and student learning. Learning Forward supported modifications to the resource guide to make it useful for schools and districts in all states and beyond.

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