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Making Professional Development More Strategic: A Conceptual Model for District Decision-Makers


"In this paper, we will address three concerns about PD as it currently operates in school districts, outlining the complexity of the problem:

  • Decentralized operations within large school districts and inadequate resources in small districts have led to the fragmentation of PD.
  • PD often is expensive, but there are few tools to document its cost and yield.
  • PD is not linked to teacher evaluation or ongoing policies of accountability for student

This paper provides a framework for districts to manage this complexity and to use the considerable resources expended on PD in a more purposeful, strategic, and effective manner. Section I describes the current state of PD in districts. Section II discusses lessons from the literature regarding ways to make PD strategic and systematic. This lays the groundwork for three sections that present three strategic approaches to PD:

  • Section III discusses PD that focuses on improving the effectiveness of individual teachers.
  • Section IV discusses PD that focuses on building school capacity to identify and solve problems of teaching and learning.
  • Section V discusses PD that focuses on supporting the implementation of curricula, assessments, and other programs adopted by the district."