Reach the Highest Standard in Professional Learning: Outcomes

In July of 2011, Learning Forward released the third (and most recent) iteration of standards outlining the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results. Learning Forward, with the contribution of 40 professional associations and education organizations, developed the Standards for Professional Learning. The standards make explicit that the purpose of professional learning is for educators to develop the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions they need to help students perform at higher levels. The standards are not intended as a prescription to meet every challenge related to improving the performance of educators and their students. Instead, the standards focus on one critical issue — professional learning. In the words of Learning Forward's Executive Director, Stephanie Hirsh, Increasing the effectiveness of professional learning is the leverage point with the greatest potential for strengthening and refining the day-to-day performance of educators. For most educators working in schools, professional learning is the single most accessible means they have to develop the new knowledge, skills and practice necessary to better meet student's learning needs. While the standards clearly define the indicators of quality and recommended practice in the field of professional learning, however, they are less explicit with respect to providing strategies for implementing the standards. The introduction to the text of the standards makes it clear that the standards are not a workbook, tool kit or technical assistance guide. They neither address every issue related to professional learning nor provide a road map for creating professional learning that is faithful to the standards. In fact, the document itself is intentionally brief and open-ended with respect to implementation; instead, educators are advised to unpack the meaning of the text – ideally “in a collaborative team where a small group of colleagues reflect on the implications of the standards for their school system or school.” The purpose of this series is to facilitate a deeper level of understanding of each standard, to underscore the interconnectedness of the standards, and to help educators bridge theory to practice in their own implementation efforts. Each volume of the standards shares the following organization: Series Introduction (probably written by Stephanie Hirsh or Joellen Killion) Text of the Learning Forward standard Chapter 1 (“Think Piece”): written by a leading scholar in the field, this essay serves to amplify our understanding of the standard, to stretch our thinking with respect to the standard, and to encourage meaningful dialogue among educators that leads to more effective implementation at the school or system level. Although the think piece authors will be asked to respond directly to the text of the standards (including the three “big ideas” around which each standard is organized), we recognize that this text is open to multiple readings and interpretations, depending upon an author's individual beliefs, experience, and research. So rather than framing this piece as the “final word” on a particular standard, our hope is that it will serve as a catalyst for a deeper level of professional conversation and understanding. Chapter 2 (“Implementation: “Moving from Paper to Practice”): this chapter will be written by Shirley Hord and Pat Roy. Since Shirley and Pat developed the Innovation Configuration Maps ( that informed the development of the new standards, they are ideal author candidates for this section of the series. Selected IC maps, team activities, and tools for implantation will be included in this chapter, as well as an explanation of how the standard is interrelated with others. The authors will also work to establish a clear connection between the content of the preceding think piece and implementation. Chapter 3 (“The Case Study”): This chapter, written by Valerie von Frank, will focus on an exemplary district that has achieved great results through designing and implementing high quality professional learning. The purpose is to provide readers with a powerful portrait of “what it looks like” when a standard is actualized and to motivate them to make a similar commitment to high quality professional learning in their own site. This volume focuses on the Outcomes standard:

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