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information on conditions of instruction to design their professional development programs.
Districts should review the quality and impact of their professional development offerings and revise them if they do not lead to improvements in teaching practice or student performance.
Questions to Ask.
Are professional development offerings related to the standards for student performance?
Are results from student assessments and information on conditions of instruction used to design professional development programs?
Are the quality and impact of professional development offerings reviewed and revised if they do not lead to improvements in teaching practice or student performance?
Link Between Assessment and Instruction. The more sensitive assessments are to instructional change, the more likely they will influence practice. Such assessments provide a signal to teachers and principals about what they need to change and provide information about the effects of their actions on student achievement.
Focus on Student Work. Professional development that examines student work in relation to standards—such as training for scoring performance assessments or portfolios—provides a clear picture of the kind of work students who attain standards should perform and the classroom activities that can enable students to produce such work regularly. Such opportunities make the often-abstract language of standards more concrete.
Focus on Content Standards. Professional development that focuses on the content teachers are expected to teach, rather than on generic topics that may not be related to the standards students should achieve, helps teachers understand how to redesign their practice. Such professional development emphasizes not only the content knowledge teachers are expected to have but also “pedagogical content knowledge”—the knowledge they need to teach the content to students. Such professional development models the link between standards and instructional practice by working with teachers to figure out how the standards apply in their classrooms.