C. Professional Development Subcommittee Report
Questions to be answered by the subcommittee:
- What value is added by allowing schools to waive instructional days in exchange for staff development?
- Are teachers benefiting from, and are they satisfied with the quality of mid-year staff development days?
Findings of the subcommittee:
During the initial meeting of the subcommittee, the members suggested that we make the recommendation that the staff development label be replaced with "professional development" for the purposes of this Task Force. The rationale was that continuous development encompasses all involved in an educational setting. We recommended the change to the state Comptroller's office, and the change was accepted.
Some of the general discussion at this meeting and that generated final conclusions was what professional development should be:
- locally controlled, based on needs;
- primarily content specific, as related to curriculum and instruction;
- beneficial to increasing student achievement;
- continuous and distributed throughout the year;
- designed and developed with indicators for sustained learning; and
- as valuable for growth opportunities in the educational setting as it is in the private sector.
As with any system, one factor under study highlights another factor to the forefront. Other items discussed and conclusions made were: 1.) waivers for professional development days were beneficial to schools and districts for goal attainment, 2.) other forms of delivery could be avenues, such as web-based sessions, 3.) having development days upfront before school started should be the option of the district, and 4.) professional development is beneficial and a powerful source of professional growth that must be incorporated in school and district planning.
Questions were suggested and submitted to the State Comptroller's office for inclusion in a survey. The responses to these questions in the summary were as follows:
Professional Development (n=42,523) Survey Questions Strongly Agree Agree No Opinion Disagree Strongly Disagree Don't Know No Response 14. It is worthwhile to you for your school district to receive a waiver for more professional development days in the calendar. 13% 25% 22% 22% 11% 5% 2% 15. The scheduling of dates and topics for professional development days should be left to local control. 38% 40% 10% 4% 2% 3% 2% 16. I would benefit by having professional development days before the start of school. 18% 34% 22% 14% 6% 4% 3% 17. I am satisfied with the quality of the professional development provided in my district. 17% 40% 18% 12% 6% 5% 3% 18. The design and implementation of professional development is useful to me in improving student achievement. 15% 40% 23% 10% 5% 5% 3% 19. The professional development I receive is based on best practices in the educational field. 14% 36% 27% 9% 4% 7% 4% 20. I have no difficulty scheduling and completing college-level courses during the summer break. 6% 14% 44% 12% 10% 11% 4%
As the responses to the survey indicate, the professional development decisions should be made at the local level. If professional development is based on the identified needs of the participants, then the schools and the districts are the appropriate entities to address how to solve their needs.
If the professional development for schools is not as effective as it could be, then frameworks for attaining effectiveness should be considered. Some of these frameworks have already been developed. One noteworthy framework is the Professional Development Imperative (PDI) that was developed and/or endorsed by representatives of 25+ state educational associations in Texas to improve the quality and effectiveness of professional development. In this framework, results-driven learning and student-centered learning are critical to the achievement of goals. The following is the continuum of the Professional Development Imperative (PDI), as an example.