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Quality Standard #2: Focus on Results

The system of training and development focuses on professional practices that improve the learning and growth of all students.

"Good evaluations ... can provide meaningful information that you can use to make thoughtful, responsible decisions about professional development processes and effects."

Thomas Guskey, 2002

In successful schools, educators understand that their job is not to teach, but to make sure students learn. It is a radical shift that has revolutionized the way we think about training and development.

Indeed, more and more educators now believe that the ultimate goal of training and development is not to enhance teachers' personal or professional lives, but to improve students' learning and growth. The National Staff Development Council (2001) cites as the basis for its revised Standards for Staff Development the idea that "the primary purpose of staff development is to ensure high levels of learning for all students through improved professional learning experiences for every school employee who affects student learning." A study by Linda Darling Hammond and Deborah Ball (1998) showed a stunning 70 percent correlation between training and development and student performance. The connection between teachers' learning and students' learning is crystal clear.

In striving to improve education for children, training and development, programs must themselves rely on accepted principles of adult education. According to Malcolm G. Knowles (1984), in The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species, any educational program designed for adults must take into account five "major assumptions":

  • Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests.
  • Adults' orientation to learning is life-centered.
  • Adults' reservoir of experience constitutes a rich resource for learning.
  • Adults have a deep need to self-direct.
  • Because individual differences increase with age, adult education must allow for differences in learning style and pace. Thus, within a given school or school district, training and development offerings should include a variety of formats - coursework, workshops, action research, individual study, team projects, and learning networks-and afford opportunities for both participation and reflection.

In Maine, improving students' learning means ensuring that all students meet the standards set forth in the state's Learning Results. For most school districts, the immediate challenge - and it's both difficult and time-consuming - is to develop their own Comprehensive Local Assessment Systems. At the same time, however, educators at both state and local levels must begin to identify the professional practices that will bring about the "results" we seek.

Planning Indicators Implementation Indicators Evaluation Indicators
Goals are measurable and include adult learning principles, student performance and development, and improvement of the training and development system Activities are based on theory, demonstration, guided practice and continuous improvement.

A variety of formats  such as course work, workshops, action research, individual study, team projects, and learning networks are incorporated into program.

Activities recognize different learning styles and include a variety of instructional approaches appropriate to the content and participants, such as small group learning, individual learning, reading, listening, problem-solving, hands-on learning, and demonstrations.
Each goal and step of the process is evaluated. Evaluation assesses short  and long-term impacts.