Professional Learning

Ongoing, educator-driven professional learning is essential when developing a proficiency-based learning system, just as it is when continuing to reflect on and refine its design. When a district or school begins the planning process, professional development should focus on the goals and design of the system—what it will mean for students and educators, and how it will need to work.

Once the plan is in place, successful implementation will require a significant amount of coordination and collaboration among school leaders, teachers and other staff members. Perhaps the most empowering, effective and sustainable model of ongoing professional learning is the professional learning group—small teams of teachers who meet regularly in content-area or grade-level groups to discuss, develop and refine their proficiency-based curricula, instructional practices and assessment strategies. If high-functioning professional learning groups are already in place, your district or school will have a significant advantage when it comes to implementing your proficiency-based system. If your school has not yet created a collaborative, educator-driven professional-development program, we strongly recommend making the establishment of professional learning groups a top priority.

The following resources will help support ongoing professional learning in your district or school:

  • Harnessing Teacher Knowledge: A Guide to Developing School-Based Systems for Professional Learning and Planning. Developed by the Great Schools Partnership, Harnessing Teacher Knowledge is a comprehensive suite of resources designed to help school administrators and teacher leaders engage in a thoughtful self-assessment process as they work toward creating a high-functioning professional learning and planning culture in their school.
  • Global Best Practices, Dimension 1.8. Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary School Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools. Dimension 1.8 addresses professional development.
  • What Are Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)? A briefing for New England's education leaders.
  • Learning Forward. A Professional Learning Association initiative, Learning Forward believes every educator should engage in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves. The website features numerous professional development resources that support professional learning groups.
  • Status of Professional Learning Reports. Launched in 2008 by National Staff Development Council and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, the Status of Professional Learning research study aims to measure the effectiveness of professional learning in the United States.
  • All Things PLC. All Things PLC is a collaborative, objective resource for educators and administrators who are committed to enhancing student achievement through professional learning groups.
  • School Reform Initiative. This initiative works to create transformational learning communities fiercely committed to educational equity and excellence. Educators will find a variety of resources and protocols for professional learning groups on this website.