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image of the seal of the state of MaineMaine Department of Education

Professional Development Policy Advisory Committee

 

January 2003

Dear Reader:

I am pleased with the publication of this Professional Training and Development report. I am grateful to Commissioner Albanese for assembling an Advisory Committee of dedicated educators to consider the significant issues surrounding training and development, and I am appreciative of the time and insights provided by practitioners around the State to our study. I applaud the Committee for its deliberations and conclusions.

As a result of the Committee's work, a set of expectations, expressed as Quality Standards, have been adopted as rule in Section 8 of Chapter 125: Basic Approval Standards: Public Schools and School Administrative Units. This report highlights those Standards and describes them in a context of action. I believe the Standards in Action will help practitioners to unpack the meaning of the Quality Standards.

There are additional recommendations from the Committee that should also be mentioned. Noteworthy is the importance of building a culture in our schools that promotes and supports continuous learning for all adults who work with children and youth. The Committee recommends that each local system for training and development be grounded in a set of beliefs. The example below is taken from a Learning Results Teachers' Academy sponsored by The Spurwink Institute, Kieve Affective Education and the University of Southern Maine. As a training and development activity the program espoused that:

  • Improved student academic performance and/or personal development are the ultimate goals.
  • Change in student performance is based on change in professional practices.
  • Change in professional practice starts with relevant and compelling information and/or data.
  • Educators need time to absorb information and to discuss ideas with colleagues before they commit themselves to changing practice.
  • Clear, immediate steps for taking action are essential.
  • Continuous support in the process of trying new practices increases the likelihood of lasting change.
  • Self-assessment and other evaluation data are powerful tools for reflection and change.

A set of belief statements such as these will assist greatly in the planning, implementation and evaluation of activities and in the evaluation of the system of training and development itself.

Another finding of the Committee that I want to reinforce is the acknowledgment of the embryonic state of the evaluation of training and development activity. Typically, educators evaluate the logistics of training and development activity, and its venues and they may seek participants' opinion of the activity and perhaps its potential to increase student achievement or development. Rarely does the evaluation protocol seek to determine if the training and development has enabled educators to change practice. Rarer still do evaluation practices systematically investigate whether or not changes in practice actually impact student learning and/or development.

We have an abundance of research and self-assessment tools and implementation resources available in print, on-line and through our state's training and development organizations. Please note the References and Resources section at the end of our report.

I challenge us all to work with diligence to create more sophisticated systems of training and development that focus on student performance and development, support teachers and administrators in enhancing practice and systematically measure the impact of activity on student growth.

With thanks and sincere regards,

Richard H. Card

Richard H. Card, Ed.D.
Professional Development
Policy Advisory Committee Co-Chair