August 2018

Highlight: The Power of Protocols

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​Learning Forward’s Definition of Professional Learning

The term “professional development” means a comprehensive, sustained, and intensive approach to improving teachers’ and principals’ effectiveness in raising student achievement --
(A) Professional development fosters collective responsibility for improved student performance and must be comprised of professional learning that:

  • (1) is aligned with rigorous state student academic achievement standards as well as related local educational agency and school improvement goals;

  • (2) is conducted among educators at the school and facilitated by well-prepared school principals and/or school-based professional development coaches, mentors, master teachers, or other teacher leaders;

  • (3) primarily occurs several times per week among established teams of teachers, principals, and other instructional staff members where the teams of educators engage in a continuous cycle of improvement that --

    • (i) evaluates student, teacher, and school learning needs through a thorough review of data on teacher and student performance;

    • (ii) defines a clear set of educator learning goals based on the rigorous analysis of the data;

    • (iii) achieves the educator learning goals identified in subsection (A)(3)(ii) by implementing coherent, sustained, and evidenced-based learning strategies, such as lesson study and the development of formative assessments, that improve instructional effectiveness and student achievement;

    • (iv) provides job-embedded coaching or other forms of assistance to support the transfer of new knowledge and skills to the classroom;

    • (v) regularly assesses the effectiveness of the professional development in achieving

    • identified learning goals, improving teaching, and assisting all students in meeting challenging state academic achievement standards;

    • (vi) informs ongoing improvements in teaching and student learning; and

    • (vii) that may be supported by external assistance.

(B) The process outlined in (A) may be supported by activities such as courses, workshops, institutes, networks, and conferences that:

  • (1) must address the learning goals and objectives established for professional development by educators at the school level;

  • (2) advance the ongoing school-based professional development; and

  • (3) are provided by for-profit and nonprofit entities outside the school such as universities, education service agencies, technical assistance providers, networks of content-area specialists, and other education organizations and associations.

For more information visit:


Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning

The standards give educators the information they need to take leadership roles as advocates for and facilitators of effective professional learning and the conditions required for its success. Widespread attention to the standards increases equity of access to a high-quality education for every student, not just for those lucky enough to attend schools in more advantaged communities.
Increasing the effectiveness of professional learning is the leverage point with the greatest potential for strengthening and refining the day-to-day performance of educators. For most educators working in schools, professional learning is the singular most accessible means they have to develop the new knowledge, skills, and practices necessary to better meet students' learning needs. The use of Standards for Professional Learning by school systems and educators indicates
commitment to effective professional learning. Further, use of the standards to plan, facilitate, and evaluate professional learning promises to heighten the quality of educator learning, performance of all educators, and student learning. Increased educator effectiveness makes possible a shift from current reality to the preferred outcomes of enhanced student learning results -- a goal to which all educators subscribe.
For more information visit:

Download a four-page quick reference guide (PDF)

Standards for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2011) is the third iteration of standards outlining the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results. Learning Forward, with the contribution of 40 professional associations and education organizations, developed the Standards for Professional Learning. The standards make explicit that the purpose of professional learning is for educators to develop the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions they need to help students perform at higher levels. The standards are not a prescription for how education leaders and public officials should address all the challenges related to improving the performance of educators and their students. Instead, the standards focus on one critical issue -- professional learning.
These standards call for a new form of educator learning. The decision to call these Standards for Professional Learning rather than Standards for Professional Development signals the importance of educators taking an active role in their continuous development and places emphasis on their learning. The professional learning that occurs when these standards are fully implemented enrolls educators as active partners in determining the content of their learning, how their learning occurs, and how they evaluate its effectiveness.

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Please use the email addresses above or complete this form to contact Learning Forward Ontario.