Archive for June, 2010

The implementation of “job-embedded professional development,” particularly in low-performing schools, has been a big piece of recent national policy and initiatives as a means of developing and supporting teacher effectiveness. Unfortunately, the term job-embedded professional development (JEPD) is rarely explicitly defined, and questions remain on how to support the successful implementation of this potentially powerful approach to teacher learning. The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality teamed up with the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, with input from the National Staff Development Council, to develop a new Issue Brief to try and answer some of these questions. The new brief, Job-embedded Professional Development: What It Is, Who is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well, generates a common understanding of the term and definition. However, it also includes examples from practices and goes beyond an elusive, jargony definition.

As described in the brief, job-embedded professional development is primarily school or classroom based, is integrated into the workday, and consists of assessing and finding solutions to authentic challenges. It relies on the professional knowledge of the teachers in the school as they engage in inquiry-based, collaborative learning and may consist of teams within a department, across departments, across subjects within grade levels, or across grade levels. JEPD can occur in multiple formats including action research, case discussion, data teams/assessment development, lesson study, mentoring, and study groups.

Current research supports a number of necessary conditions for high-quality professional development:

  • Teacher opportunities to learn: Teachers benefit from a culture that supports ongoing opportunities to learn by providing time, space, and structures for these opportunities.
  • Professional learning in a community and as a community: The type of collaborative problem solving at the heart of JEPD is best accomplished through sustained collaboration, which is best achieved through guided opportunities to develop collaborative skills such as conflict resolution, problem-solving strategies, and consensus building.
  • Facilitator skills: Because the quality of JEPD depends largely on the skills of the facilitator, it is important that the facilitator have effective interpersonal, group-process skills and other facilitation skills.

State, district, and school leaders can support high-quality JEPD in a myriad of ways including building a shared vocabulary, creating a culture in which continued learning is valued, and providing support, time, and space for JEPD in the school.

Stephen Sawchuk of EdWeek’s Teacher Beat gets at the need to foster a common understanding and use terms that are understandable and contain relevant meaning. The TQ Center and their collaborators provide a basis for this practical and relevant definition. What from the Issue Brief, your experience, or other sources helps you develop an applicable understanding of job-embedded professional development?

The High School Tiered Interventions Initiative (HSTII), a collaborative effort between the National High School Center, the Center on Instruction, and the National Center on Response to Intervention, has released a new report, Tiered Interventions in High Schools: Using Preliminary ‘Lessons Learned’ to Guide Ongoing Discussion. This new report summarizes what HSTII has learned about effective implementation of RTI in high schools. Contextual factors such as instructional organization, school culture, focus, and staff roles can vary greatly and can affect the implementation of RTI at the high school level. HSTII has provided information for regional comprehensive centers, state education agencies, districts, and schools on these contextual factors and how to apply the RTI framework within the context of high schools.

Throughout the report, the authors bring attention to the variety of contextual factors within their eight participating schools. HSTII provides information and guidance for the practitioner, based on the experience of other practitioners and supported by research. Tiered Interventions also is not and does not claim to be an implementation guide for the RTI framework in general or specifically within high schools.

How can we identify tools, and specific steps that are evidence-based, or support research to develop this next big step in implementing RTI in high schools? These questions, which are of particular concern within the context of high schools, will have to be answered going forward.