Transforming Professional Learning: Actions for States to Help Teachers Continuously Improve Their Instructional Practices

If schools want to significantly improve student outcomes, they need to help millions of hardworking teachers continuously improve their instructional practice. Yet in many districts, the professional development fails to produce positive changes in the classroom, despite substantial investments of money and time. To develop their instructional practices, teachers require a professional learning system with four critical components: research-based instructional practices and materials; personalized and competency-based structures; intensive coaching and time for collaboration; and opportunities for advancement and recognition. Districts can develop various ways to deliver-and pay for-these components, which lead to high-quality professional learning. However, too few districts are doing so. This is where states come in. States that take the following five steps to support districts can help transform professional learning to benefit teachers and students.

1. Identify research-based instructional practices and materials. 

2. Support personalized and competency based learning structures. 

3. Fund intensive coaching, provide time for collaboration, and build social capital. 

4. Create opportunities for advancement and recognition. 

5. Build district capacity, coherency, and aligned resources.

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