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About the Professional Learning toolkit

This toolkit provides leaders with a multi-step decision-making process, practical tools, and numerous examples for setting a trajectory of positive change, moving assertively toward achievement of student learning and improvement goals. The toolkit recognizes that improvements in student learning are related to improvements in educator practice and that strengthened practice is supported by research- and standards-based professional learning.

The toolkit helps districts capitalize on the positive relationship between student results and professional learning by purposefully:

  • Integrating online, connected, and face-to-face professional learning, aligned with improvement goals
  • Fostering online and connected learning as part of the day-to-day activities of schools and districts
  • Connecting with other networks and online communities of practice nationally and/or globally

There are instances in the toolkit and The Future Ready District brief where we use the term effective professional learning. As we describe and operationalize the term in the toolkit and brief, effective professional learning strategies:

  • Are aligned with professional standards
  • Are purposeful and perceived by practitioners as worthwhile where they have been tried, as illustrated by district examples
  • Seem likely to create value for educators and their organizations, as defined in the evaluation framework

There is still debate among educational researchers about the features of professional learning that generate value, and, to date, there have been a limited number of large-scale experimental studies of professional development and, in particular, the new and innovative forms for online and blended professional learning on which this toolkit focuses. The results of some such studies that have been completed are inconclusive or contradictory. In light of these limitations, the guidance the toolkit and brief provide is based on the best evidence currently available. They draw on studies respected by experienced professional development practitioners, which range from experimental to quasi-experimental to descriptive, cited at the end of each tool and embedded within The Future Ready District brief. In cases where research has yet to be conducted, the toolkit and the brief draw on examples of novel practice that may be worth application paired with careful evaluation.