As we look through the many Race to the Top applications submitted by states from around the country, we’re encouraged by the multitude of plans for collaborative professional development. As stated in our Legislative Agenda, ASCD sees “professional development activities—such as study groups, action research, and data analysis—that promote both collaborative and self-directed continuous learning and focus on student needs, results, and best practice” as a key component of supporting highly effective educators.
Examples span from teachers to administrators and from traditional in-person meetings to innovative online gathering places. In Idaho, leaders are planning to expand an existing Superintendents Network; currently, 30 superintendents “meet four times a year to discuss improving student achievement and share challenges and success stories.” In California, the state plans to develop a professional learning community that brings together state and local education stakeholders:
” . . . teachers and leaders who have common goals, examine data, and share effective practices, particularly in strategic areas such as use of data to inform instruction, early literacy and mathematics, STEM programs, and strengthening high school graduation and college attendance rates.”
And in Washington, DC, educators will have access to an online learning community in which they can share lesson plans and best practices—an idea that will be familiar to members of the ASCD community.
These are just a few examples; in application after application, plans are afoot for educators to collaborate, particularly in the service of interpreting and responding to data effectively. This is great news, but just the beginning. Educators looking to ensure these communities are successful can turn to the pages of Educational Leadership, where Jane L. David has examined the research on “Learning Communities for Administrators,” and Shirley M. Hord and Stephanie A. Hirsch have addressed “The Principal’s Role in Supporting Learning Communities.”
This is the first in a series of posts examining different aspects of the RTTT state applications of particular interest to the ASCD community; stay tuned for more information over the next few weeks.