September 25, 2013
As states and districts move toward full implementation of the Common Core Standards, developing educators’ understanding of the standards and building their capacity to revamp instruction to incorporate deeper and authentic application of learning is critical. Yet, despite educators’ call for professional learning, policy and decision makers repeatedly question the impact of professional learning and its ability to produce deep change in educator practice and student achievement. One reason for these questions is a commonly held misconception that all professional learning is equivalent in quality, regardless of its length, design, and alignment with educator and student outcomes.
Learning Forward, as a part of its initiative, Transforming Professional Learning to Prepare College- and Career-Ready Students: Implementing the Common Core, offers an array of resources for states and school system leaders. Freely available at <http://www.learningforward.org/publications/implementing-common-core>, these resources provide policy briefs and workbooks to guide practice related to transforming professional learning to expand and refine educator effectiveness to achieve deep implementation of Common Core standards and other major initiatives designed to achieve high levels of learning for all students.
For example, a common challenge is finding time and resources for professional learning. Establishing Time for Professional Learning guides a team of stakeholders through an analysis and revision of school-day schedules and school-year calendars to ensure educators have adequate time for collaboration to support the reforms needed in teaching an learning. Professional Learning Initiative Analysis: A Workbook for States and Districts guides educators to examine existing professional learning initiatives and their investments in them to repurpose effort and resources to achieve high-priority needs. Other resources address a wide range of related topics such as investments in professional learning, the role of the principal, the role of technology, induction and mentoring, assessing implementation efforts, planning professional learning, building a comprehensive professional learning system, and the role of third-party partners.
Rather than questioning the value of professional learning, policy and decision makers can act to ensure that all educators experience effective professional learning by adopting and enforcing policies for comprehensive systems of professional learning that incorporate a clear vision, definition, standards for professional learning, continuous evaluation, and sufficient resources. Learning Forward’s suite of Transforming Professional Learning resources offer the guidance and support to accomplish these tasks.
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