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Advancing PD Through Labor-Management Collaboration

Tomorrow, the US Department of Education will host school district leaders from across the country at a conference focused on the importance of collaborative labor-management relationships. While districts' negotiations address a myriad of issues, Learning Forward views none as more important and riper for innovation than professional learning.

We worked for three years with CCSSO, AFT, and NEA, as well as teams from six states, on a project focused solely on identifying examples of contract language and state policy that advances effective professional learning that improves teaching and student achievement. This effort resulted in the study, Advancing High-Quality Professional Learning Through Collective Bargaining and State Policy.

Three key ideas emerged from this study:

  1. Professional development is only as effective as the expectations set for it.

  2. Negotiated contract provisions and policy language about professional development are best considered within their unique contexts.

  3. Professional development can be dramatically enhanced through state policy and collective bargaining agreements.

The following national recommendations emerged from the work of this initiative:

  1. All states and districts should adopt and follow strong standards for professional development.

  2. States and districts should develop easily understood, research-based, and graduated rating systems for professional development programs.

  3. States and districts should provide adequate resources, including time and financial support, to ensure every educator engages in effective professional learning.

  4. All states and districts should immediately implement new or expanded professional learning for school leaders, including principals and teacher leaders, to help them facilitate and integrate high-quality professional development into teachers' workdays.

  5. States and districts should require that school leaders' evaluations include how well they implement effective professional learning.

  6. States and districts should work collaboratively to establish parameters or guidance on teachers' role in all decisions related to professional development.

We urge all those participating in tomorrow's conference, as well as those considering ways to improve existing collaborative labor-management practice, to consider the key ideas and recommendations highlighted in the report. We hope some of the examples will help others as they envision what is possible through collaborative labor-management negotiations.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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