Key Issues for Professional Development

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Developing the Key Issues

Subscribers to the Adult Literacy Professional Development Discussion List identified the following key issues for professional development (PD), either as they arose during the development of the AALPD PD Policy Recommendations, in posting them on the Adult Literacy Discussion List, by participating in off-list email exchanges, or in discussion with AALPD members.

How Key Issues Are Organized The Key Issues are NOT listed in particular order, and the list is incomplete. Beneath the list, each "Key Issue" has its own section:

  • Definining the Issue: Presents a definition of the Key Issue
  • Questions for Professional Wisdom
  • Questions for Research (in some instances)
  • Resources on the Issue

The development of the Key Issues is a collaborative effort. To add to or edit the Key Issues, add your edits here: Editing Key Issues or email Jackie Taylor at: jataylor@utk.edu.

List of Key Issues

I. Teacher Change
II. Sustained Professional Development
III. Quality Standards for Professional Development:
IV. Teacher Turnover
V. Effectiveness of Professional Development

  • A. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Professional Development
  • B. Factors That May Influence the Effectiveness of Professional Development
    • 1. Teacher Experience
    • 2. Paid Professional Development
    • 3. The Cost of Not Paying for Planning Time
    • 4. Teacher Working Conditions
    • 5. Full-Time/Part-Time Practitioner Workforce

VI. Teacher Quality and Effectiveness
VII. AALPD Recommended Professional Development Policies
VIII. Impact of Accountability: The Political Climate, State, and Federal Mandates
IX. Building A Research-Based Professional Development System

X. Advocacy and Professional Development

  • A. History of the ALE System and Professional Development
  • B. Raising Awareness of the ALE System

XI. Student and Teacher Leadership

  • A. Student Leadership
  • B. Teacher Leadership

XII. Balance of Professional Development
XIII. Expectations for Participation in Professional Development

  • A. Incentives for Professional Development

IVX. Online PD
XV. Relationship of PD to Program Improvement
XVI. Relationship of PD to Curriculum Development
XVII. Career Paths for Teachers in our Field
XVIII. Identifying Teachers' Professional Development Needs
IIIIVX. State Systems of Professional Development


I. Teacher Change

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What actually brings about teacher change?
  • What kinds of professional development results in the most change in teacher practice?
  • What are the various approaches to professional development that support teachers in developing a philosophy of teaching? How are PD "systems" supporting these approaches?

Resources on the Issue
Smith, C., Hofer, J., Gillespie, M., Solomon, M., & Rowe,K. (2003). How teachers change: A study of professional development in adult education. Boston, MA: National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. NCSALL Reports #25. http://tinyurl.com/mfvec

Archive of “Teacher Change” discussion http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Teacher_Change

Archive of “Teacher Experience and Change” discussion http://tinyurl.com/hqytl


II. Sustained Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • Given the unique challenges presented by the policies and structure of the ABE field, what are creative solutions for providing sustained professional development that best support teacher access, participation, learning and change?
  • What efforts are underway to move from the one-shot PD activity to activities that sustain and extend professional development?
  • What follow-up (such as mentoring or peer coaching) to workshops or training helps PD participants move from the awareness stage in learning a skill through the development and to the transfer-to-practice stage?

Resources on the Issue


III. Quality Standards for Professional Development

Ensuring that the professional development provided meets certain standards

Defining the Issue
The National Staff Development Council has invested a number of years in developing quality standards for professional development in K-12. There’s been discussion about similar efforts in ABE but the extent and results of those efforts are not clear.

Questions for Professional Wisdom
What are the standards that should be achieved for adult literacy and language professional development? What models do other states have in place for continuous improvement of their PD systems?

  • Have any states attempted to define high quality professional development? How about a high quality PD "system?" If so, please tell us about the process you used to arrive at that definition. What influenced your work in this area?
  • Does your state have a process in place to assess the quality of your overall PD system? How does the process work? Who is involved? How often does it take place? etc.
  • What are some example standards and quality indicators for PD systems?
  • If your state has worked on some of this, what progress have you made? Are there any lessons learned that can be shared at this point?
  • What is the case to be made, either for or against, the effort to hold PD systems accountable for achieving some standards of quality? [[1]]

Resources on the Issue
Archive of "Quality Standards for PD" discussion http://tinyurl.com/hs7bv


IV. Teacher Turnover

Defining the Issue
Every field of practice experiences turnover. Professionals retire, leave the field for better jobs, benefits, or for family reasons. In public schools, 8% of teachers transfer to a different school and 7% leave the field altogether (see NCES: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/2004301.pdf). So the issue becomes, what is teacher turnover for the ABE field? Is it 7%? Is it more?

Even though the investment in professional development may not be considered lost if the teacher moves to a different program, students (and staff) still experience loss, and program administrators spend valuable time and resources adequately staffing classrooms.

In terms of professional development, if the percent of teachers who leave the field altogether is higher than K-12, then what is the "cost" or "wastage" of professional development dollars given over to this phenomenon?

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • How serious is the problem of teacher turnover in adult education programs?
  • What factors are related to keeping effective teachers, and how can we reduce turnover?

Resources on the Issue
Smith and Hofer (2003) reviewed some of the teacher turnover research in 2003 in the NCSALL report "The Characteristics and Concerns of Adult Basic Education Teachers" (p. 6-7): http://tinyurl.com/zxbkd

Smith, H. V. with Dr. Victoria Hoffman and Ken Appelt. (2005). "Teacher Retention in Adult Literacy Programs: Uncharted Territory - or Something We Already Know How to Achieve?" http://www-tcall.tamu.edu/newsletr/oct05/oct05a.htm


V.Effectiveness of Professional Development

5A. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Professional Development

Defining the Issue
In evaluating the effectiveness of PD, some suggest that the real measure of impact should be on student learning outcomes based on what the teacher learns and changes from the professional development in which he or she has participated. Yet, many factors that affect whether and to what extent teachers can implement what they have learned is impacted by outside factors (such as teacher working conditions) for which it is difficult to control.

Questions for Professional Wisdom
In evaluating the impact of PD:

  • What should be the gauge: teacher learning, student achievement and outcomes, or both?
  • What models for evaluating the effectiveness of PD are professional development providers using?
  • Are there systems for linking ABE learner's goal achievement to teacher's professional development?
  • What are feasible means of evaluating professional development on limited budgets?

Resources on the Issue


5B. Factors That May Influence the Effectiveness of Professional Development

5B1. Teacher Experience

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

Resources on the Issue


5B2. Paid Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • One the limitations on how effective PD can be is that teachers, especially part-time teachers who have several jobs, just don't have enough (paid) time to do more than they are doing now. Is this a common problem, or only a problem in some states? What are solutions to the problem that must be considered?

Resources on the Issue


5B3. The Cost of Not Paying for Planning Time

Defining the Issue
Smith, et al (2003) found that paid prep time was an important factor in how much teachers changed their thinking and acting after participating in professional development. However, not all states pay adult educators planning time to actually implement what they learned in professional development. Thus, professional development dollars can be wasted by sending teachers to professional development who learn new practices or gain ideas, but then don't have the time to put them into practice because they aren't paid to prepare for classes.

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What is the cost of not paying teachers for planning time?
  • If your state does not pay teachers, then what are the issues for your state in paying teachers for planning time? What information or resources are needed in your state in order to implement a policy of paid prep time?
  • If you do pay teachers for planning time, then how does this work in your state? What insights or resources could you share for other states who are considering implementing this policy?

Resources on the Issue


5B4. Teacher Working Conditions

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What is the cost to our field by not providing working conditions that will allow teachers:
    • Adequate teacher salaries
    • benefits for all teachers (including part-time)
    • access to full-time employment
    • paid prep time for all teachers (including part-time)
    • paid access for all teachers to at least one hour a week of professional sharing time with either colleagues or a coordinator who supports their teaching, and
    • at least monthly mechanisms (staff meetings, meetings with director) for voicing their ideas and participating in decisions about the program?
  • What is the feasibility of providing a comprehensive standards-based PD system with primarily a low-paid, part-time, high-turnaround workforce? How have other states resolved this issue?
  • Are there examples in our country of programs that provide adequate teacher working conditions? If so, who are they, and how are they supporting teachers in this way?


Resources on the Issue
Smith, C., and Hofer, J. (2003). The Characteristics and Concerns of Adult Basic Education Teachers. Boston, MA: National Center for Adult Learning and Literacy. NCSALL Reports #26. http://tinyurl.com/q2g4e

[Is This Online?] TESOL Presentation (2006): ABE Survey: Equity and Advocacy and Standards: Voices from Adult ESOL Educators. Presenters: Rosie Maum and Yilin Sun.


5B5. Full-Time/Part-Time Practitioner Workforce

Defining the Issue
Nationally, 80% of teachers in ABE are part-time, and thousands in the instructional workforce are volunteers. The National Evaluation of Adult Education conducted by Development Associates (1994) indicated that a critical success factor for adult education programs is the capacity to employ some full time instructors who either teach full-time or teach part-time and serve as a resource to part-time teachers and tutors. [[4]]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What is the balance of full-time and part-time instructors, as well as with volunteers, do you find most successful and rewarding for your program? What balance of roles do you find necessary (ex: teaching part time while coordinating program PD part-time; volunteer tutoring with grant-seeking)?

Resources on the Issue


VI. Teacher Quality and Effectiveness

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Research

Does professional development lead increased teacher quality and effectiveness? If so, then to what extent?

  • Are teachers with more experience more effective than teachers with less experience?
  • To what extent does teacher working conditions impact teachers' effectiveness in helping students achieve their goals?
  • Are full-time teachers more effective than part-time teachers in helping students achieve their goals?
  • Does teacher certification or credentialing improve student learning or achievement in ABE?

Resources on the Issue


VII. AALPD Recommended Professional Development Policies

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What are program and state-level strategies for implementing the AALPD PD Policy Recommendations?
  • In what ways are professional development staff and state resource centers using the AALPD PD Policy Recommendations?

Resources on the Issue
AALPD PD Policy Recommendations and the PD Policy Matrix (policies-rationale from research-practices) http://www.aalpd.org/advocacy.htm


VIII. Impact of Accountability: The Political Climate, State, and Federal Mandates

Defining the Issue
Professional development increasingly became a key issue in adult literacy due, in large part, to the focus for the Adult Education and Literacy System (AELS) on quality and continuous improvement as described in the 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA). This shift towards quality required a tighter shift in accountability, while at the same time decreasing the amount of state leadership money available for PD from a required minimum expenditure of 15% to spending no more than a maximum of 12.5%.

This shift towards quality meant that teachers needed 'systems' training: to assess all the same way, collect data in the same way; to analyze data and make data-driven decisions. It should also mean more flexibility to support teachers in using new teaching methods, and to continuously improve.

Thus, meeting high stakes testing requirements has created a stronger focus on "accountability training"; while at the same time less money is available for professional development. The experiences and impacts of this shift as it affects professional development remains unclear.

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What is the impact of the current policy climate in adult literacy on the types of professional development that is provided?
  • For better and/or for worse: How are the technical demands of accountability and mandated or core training requirements impacting professional development? How is it impacting teaching and learning?
  • Has our field become more hesitant to try experimental approaches, e.g. MI, or adopt social justice-related professional development, given emphasis on core trainings pertaining to high-stakes testing?
  • How are state PD centers/programs responding to increased expectations of accountability?

Resources on the Issue


IX. Building A Research-Based Professional Development System

A research-based professional development system is a system based upon the best professional development research available.

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What research is available on professional development systems?
  • What are states doing to build or strengthen a research-based professional development system?

Resources on the Issue


X. Advocacy and Professional Development

XA. History of the ALE System and Professional Development

Defining the Issue
Many adults in need of ABE and ESOL are on long waiting lists for services. Further, many people would agree that:

  • adult education is not widely recognized as a profession
  • the Adult Education and Literacy System is not a truly public education system (There are no waiting lists for K-12 education).

Therefore, practitioners, learners and graduates must be ongoing advocates for adult learners and their needs, and for what our field needs in order to provide resources that support learners [[5]].

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • In what ways can adult literacy professional development complement the advocacy work of professional associations?
  • Do we systematically include in professional development an overview of the history of the struggles and successes of American adult literacy education (including English language learning) ?If so, what are some good examples from state professional development resource centers?
  • How are programs and states addressing the need for integration between understanding the history of our field and practitioners’ and adult learners’ advocacy for a high quality system of adult literacy education with adequate resources?
  • What will it take for states to recognize that professional development on advocacy must be recognized as a legitimate and even required topic for professional development?

Resources on the Issue

  • Sticht, T. (2002). The rise of the Adult Education and Literacy System in the United States: 1600-2000. In J. Comings, B. Garner, & C. Smith (Eds.), The annual review of adult learning and literacy (Vol. 3, pp. 10-43). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


B. Raising Awareness of the ALE System

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What efforts are underway, either locally, state, or nationally, to raise public awareness of the importance of adult literacy and English language learning to meeting national, state and local goals for education, health and employment?

Resources on the Issue
Literacy President http://www.litpresident.org/


XI. Student and Teacher Leadership

XIA. Student Leadership

Defining the Issue
Many would argue that "...it is no accident that a large percentage of our learner audience struggle with inadequate income, jobs that do not pay a living wage, lack of health care and other basic, human needs...building practitioner awareness of the strengths, knowledge and leadership potential of our learners must also be a major aspect of our adult literacy and language professional development." [[6]]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What are programs and states doing to build practitioner awareness of learner leadership potential and opportunities for student involvement?
  • How do practitioners and professional developers involve students in programs and professional development?
  • What research is there on student involvement?

Resources on the Issue


B. Teacher Leadership

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • How are states supporting teacher leadership?
  • How do states develop educational leadership and support practitioners in their roles?

Resources on the Issue


XII. Balance of Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • How are states balancing the need for core training, program-based professional development, and training unique to individual teacher needs? What are teachers' experiences of these various structures?
  • What efforts are underway for providing/supporting site-based professional development?

Resources on the Issue


XIII. Expectations for Participation in Professional Development

A. Incentives for Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What are states/groups doing to encourage continuing education for adult education teachers/trainers?
  • What fiscal support is available?
  • How can professional development "fit" the needs of those who work in nontraditional schedules?
  • What policies seem to be working/or causing difficulties?

Resources on the Issue


IVX. Online Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • Is online PD offered in your state?
  • Have you participated in online PD?
  • What successes are states having with online professional development courses?
  • What delivery modes are being used besides the online course? Online meetings, webinars, webcasts, videoconferencing, phone conferencing?
  • Of the above methods, which have proved effective and under what circumstances?
  • What barriers to you have to participating in online PD?
  • Is online PD supported by your state Adult Ed office?

Resources on the Issue


XV. Relationship of Professional Development to Program Improvement

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • Should professional development include program improvement?
  • What are states doing to integrate professional development and program improvement?
  • What are the challenges of using staff development for program improvement?

Resources on the Issue


XVI. Relationship of Professional Development to Curriculum Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What efforts in professional development support curriculum development?

Resources on the Issue


XVII. Career Paths for Teachers in our Field

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What are the career pathways for teachers in various programs or areas?
  • What efforts are under way to make teaching in adult literacy and language a career choice with long-term career promise?


Resources on the Issue


XVIII. Identifying Teachers' Professional Development Needs

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • What strategies do states use to identify teacher professional development needs?

Resources on the Issue
Archive of “Teacher Needs Assessment” discussion of available assessments
http://tinyurl.com/jf3j6


IIIIVX. State Systems of Professional Development

Defining the Issue [ADD HERE]

Questions for Professional Wisdom

  • How do various state professional development systems operate?
  • How are they structured?
  • What are the components of a state professional development system?

Resources on the Issue
Archive of “State Professional Development Systems” discussion that explores funding, leadership, structure, provision of PD, policy, state initiatives, assessment and evaluation, continuous improvement, and other related state PD systems issues.

Summary and Discussion Threads:
http://tinyurl.com/huyht

Matrix of State PD Systems:
http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/PD_Systems_Matrix


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