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Holding PD Providers Accountable

With budget shortfalls impacting the education, states must make a real effort to hold professional development providers accountable for delivering work and results. Many have asked about strategies for increasing accountability for providers. Here are some ideas:

First, ensure that the organization's (the state, district, or school) contracting process is thorough. This process must include a review of information about the provider's credentials, experiences, and prior outcomes. The contracting organization must do its homework and be confident the provider has the knowledge, skills, and track record to produce the agreed upon results.

Secondly, the organization must review the evidence base behind the content and processes that underlie the professional development delivered by the provider. School systems should ask, "What is the likelihood of increased educator performance when implementing the practice or process delivered b the provider?"

Finally, make sure that contracts include deliverables both throughout and at the end of the process. Agreed-upon benchmarks must be negotiated, and ongoing formative evaluation and design corrections must be core components. When benchmarks fail to be met and mid-course correction explanations are deemed unacceptable, contracts must be made null and non-binding. Final payments must be held until thorough evaluations are provided.

One common strategy for holding providers accountable is pre-vetting providers or adding them to an "approved provider list." While this can be an effective strategy, I recommend that states focus on ensuring educators have the knowledge and tools to make effective decisions regarding professional development, and hold their providers accountable.

Stephanie Hirsh

Executive Director, Learning Forward

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The opinions expressed in Learning Forward's PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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