Educators Have to Learn Too! ESSA & Professional Learning

By Stefanie Prokity

The Background

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the nation’s new education law, redefines the standards for high-quality professional development for teachers and K-12 leaders.

Why is that important? At least one national observer says the law could have a significant impact in moving schools away from the one-day workshop model that has dominated professional development for years and toward a new, more personalized—and more highly effective—approach.

ESSA updates this definition by stating: “The term ‘professional development’ means activities that … are sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom focused.” (S. 1177, Section 8002, page 295, paragraph 42)

In other words, professional development should be an ongoing process that is seamlessly woven into a teacher’s experience throughout the year, the law says—and not just a series of unconnected, “sit and get” workshops.

There are two other terms that show up repeatedly within ESSA to describe the kinds of professional development activities the law should fund: “personalized” and “evidence-based.”

For example, under Section 2103, the law lists “providing high-quality, personalized professional development that is evidence-based” among the activities intended for funding under Title II, Part A: Supporting Effective Instruction. (S. 1177, page 127, paragraph E)

Just as students benefit from opportunities for personalized learning, teachers and school leaders do as well, the law implies—and it directs funding to professional development activities that are grounded in research and targeted to educators’ specific needs. (Summarized from ESSA Redefines Professional Development for Teachers. Are You Ready for This Shift? By Dennis Pierce)


The Challenge

When school districts commit to offering more personalized professional development then challenges arise, namely how they will;

·        Deliver consistently high quality, aligned, differentiated professional learning for teachers and principals?

·        Unify professional development opportunities in a district with a culture of site-driven decision-making?

·        Shift people from a compliance mindset to a growth mindset?

·        Address the time pressures that everyone feels?

·        Give teachers more power to choose their own pathway?

·        Leverage new technologies to address persistent professional development issues?


One Solution

Successful Innovations, Inc. has dedicated six years to providing educators with consistently high quality professional development through the National Family Engagement Summit and subsequent follow-up, on-site professional learning opportunities. This year is no different! The 2017 National Family Engagement Summit will be held on March 16-17, 2017 in Richmond, VA. The Summit hosts some of the most intellectual and thought-provoking leaders in education to help attendees improve their content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills which will lead to improved instructional practices and greater student achievement. The National Family Engagement Summit focuses on providing educators from all across the nation with proven, research-based solutions and techniques for impacting school reform efforts and for conquering demographic, socioeconomic, equity and diversity challenges. 

At Successful Innovations, Inc. we believe that continuous and innovative professional learning created through collaborative partnerships is an integral component to transformational change within school districts all across the country. Our professional development offerings, including the National Family Engagement Summit, are infused with innovative practices that build capacity and expertise in new skills for educators that will ultimately bring value to teachers and administrators and academic success to students.

To learn more about the 2017 National Family Engagement Summit visit our website; We look forward to meeting you in March and revolutionizing your professional learning and family engagement goals!