Published on 2012/09/12

Teachers’ Ongoing Learning in the Hands of School Boards

Ongoing professional development for teachers allows them to continue upgrading their skills and competencies, providing the next generation with a better chance to succeed in the classroom.

How much should school systems spend on professional development?

In its Standards for Staff Development, Learning Forward advocates that school districts are responsible for teacher professional development and at least 10% of their budgets to staff development and at least 25% of an educators’ work time be devoted to learning and collaboration with colleagues (NSDC, 2001).  Moreover, at least 30% of the district budget is devoted to technology.  Presently, the average percentage most districts spend on professional development is 1% to 3%. (Miles, 2004).  Further, the federal government requires that 10% of Title I funds for underperforming schools be allocated to related professional development.

How is the money spent?

This answer varies tremendously. There are costs associated with attending out of state conferences, which could include registration, transportation, lodging, and meals.  Professional development offered by school districts includes consultant fees, materials, and substitute teachers.  Other costs such as salaries for coaches, stipends for teachers’ outside their normal workday and supplies for professional learning.  Through creative scheduling however, small teams of teachers could engage in team-directed studies or professional learning communities several times a week, which would minimize costs.

How much does the amount spent on professional make a difference?

Spending more allows for greater intensity: higher quality, more learning time for teachers and more importantly, follow-up support as teachers apply what they have learned.  While there is no guarantee that higher amounts of funds for professional development makes it more effective, spending less will certainly have little or no impact on its success.  What matters is how it is implemented.

Where does the money come from?

Typical school systems use any combination of state, local, and federal funds for professional development.  Some federal and state grants allow school systems to use a portion of funds.  School systems may seek various funding sources from state and local foundations while most school districts allocate a portion of funds in their local budgets.  Some school districts require a certain percentage of budgets be allocated for professional development.

In closing, effective professional development provides ongoing opportunities for educators to continue to improve their knowledge and skills so as to assist students in their achievement.  When educators learn, students learn more.  Anyone concerned about their students will be a proponent of effective professional development for all teachers and educators.

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References

Brookfield, S. (2005). Power of critical theory for adult learning and teaching. Berkdire, Great Britain: McGraw-Hill Education.

Champion, R. (2003). Taking measure: The real measure of professional development program’s effectiveness lies in what participants learned. Journal of Staff Development, 24(1), 1–5.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (2001). Beyond certainty: Taking an inquiry stance on practice. In A. Lieberman & L. Miller (Eds.), Teachers caught in the action: Professional development that matters (pp. 45–61). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Elmore, R. (2002). Bridging the gap between standards and achievement: The imperative for professional development education [Brochure]. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute.

Ganzer, T. (Ed.) (2000). Ambitious visions of professional development for teachers [Special Issue]. National Association for Secondary School Principals, (84)618

Glattenhorn, A. (1987). Cooperative professional development: Peer centered options for teacher growth. Educational Leadership, (3)45, 31-35.

Guskey, T. R. (1995). Professional development in action: New paradigms and practices. (T. R. Guskey & M. Huberman, Eds.) New York: Teachers College Press.

Guskey, T. R. (2000). Evaluating professional development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Hord, S. M. (Ed.). (2004). Learning together leading together: Changing schools through professional learning communities. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Kedzior, M., & Fifield, S. (2004). Teacher professional development. Education Policy Brief, 15(21), 76–97.

Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in school: Translating research into action. Alexandria,, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Miles, K. H., Olden, A., Fermanich, M., & Archibald, S. (2004). Inside the blackbox of school spendning on professional development: Lessons from compariing five urban districts.  Journal of Education and Finance 30(1) 1-26.

Richardson, V. (2003). The dilemmas of professional development. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(5), 401–406.

National Staff Development Council (2001). NSDC’s Standards for Staff Zdevelopment.  Oxford, OH. Author.

National Staff Development Council (2007). Professional development. Retrieved

March 15, 2009, from http://www.NSDC.org/connect/about/index.cfm.

Walling, B., & Lewis, M. (2000). Development of professional development pre-service teachers: Longitudinal and comparative analysis. Action Teacher Education, 22(2a), 63-67

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Readers Comments

Dan Jones 2012/09/12 at 1:07 pm

I’m all for providing teachers with more skills and whatnot, but when it comes to using tax dollars to improve elementary education I think the money should be going to textbooks and other elements that have a direct impact on student learning.

Paying for a teacher to complete continuing education might have an impact on a classroom. Paying for the classroom of children to have school supplies will absolutely have an impact.

Simon Quattlebaum 2012/09/12 at 4:11 pm

Great point, Dan! However, who is going to disseminate effective teaching to those who receive the benefits of text and other necessary material? Giving opportunities to increase teacher effectiveness is tantamount to student learning. Great teachers inspire, use their menial income to fill the gap in financial distributions anyway. Suffice it say, it’s all about the student and you can’t have one without the other.

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