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Research-Based Professional Development Approaches for Improvement Planning


To promote an approach to school improvement planning that results in high-quality, job-embedded professional development with a focus on student achievement.


In each session, participants engage in collaborative learning teams to process and synthesize the information presented. Teams also are provided time to plan communication and methods to assess the "best fit" of the approach with their overall school improvement initiatives. Each session works best delivered as a one-day event but can be compacted to fit a half-day time frame.

Who Attends

School leaders and members of school improvement teams.

Participants Learn to

Examine the professional development approaches listed in the five sessions below and the role these approaches play in supporting professional growth and student learning in a school.

Session 1—Introduction to Professional Development Research Base and Process for Selecting a "Best Fit" Approach

  • Develop and participate in a professional learning team.
  • Integrate the new information from the remaining sessions into their larger school improvement team and school community to assess the "best fit" of professional development approaches.

Session 2—Teacher to Teacher: Reshaping Instruction Through Lesson Study

  • Create structured opportunities for teachers to examine teaching and learning through improving a lesson and determining its impact on student thinking and understanding.

Session 3—Examining Student Work: A Professional Development Model

  • Use protocols to guide educators in understanding specific connections between instructional practice and student learning.

Session 4—Action Research: Improvement by Design

  • Integrate the five phases of the action research cycle into their work.
  • Explore how schools might implement this approach as part of the ongoing school improvement process.

Session 5—Content-Based Coaching and Determining the "Best Fit" Approach

  • Effectively implement content-based coaching.

Research Base

These sessions are based primarily on a summary of research-based professional development conducted by Steiner. Other key references include the work of Loucks-Horsley, Hewson, Love, and Stiles for specific information related to professional development approaches, and the work of Joyce, Showers, and Fullan for information connecting professional development to student achievement. The work of DuFour and Eaker also is used to guide the activities involving professional learning teams.


A series of handouts and presentations.


$4,000 to $8,000 for two to four days, plus $20 per participant for materials. (Cost is based on a group size of up to 40 participants and does not include facilitator travel.)

For Information or Scheduling

Call 800-252-0283.


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