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Closing the Gaps in Professional Development: A Tool for School-based Leadership Teams

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Date Issued:
2015
Abstract/Description:
The field of professional learning in education has been studied and added to extensively in the last few decades. Because the importance of learning in authentic contexts through professional dialogue has become so important, high quality, school-based professional learning is vital to building capacity at the school level. Unfortunately, the literature on professional development (PD) does not provide much guidance on how to bridge theory and practice at the school level, creating a gap. With the goal of PD ultimately being to improve teacher performance and student learning, the problem with this gap is that school-level professional development is arbitrarily planned, resulting in variable outcomes. I propose the reason for this is schools lack a comprehensive framework or tool that guides the design of a quality professional learning plan. This problem was identified in Orange County Public School and this dissertation in practice aims at developing a solution that accounts for the district's specific contextual needs. My proposed solution is the design of an integrative tool that school leaders can use to guide them through the professional development planning process. The School-based Professional Learning Design Tool incorporates the professional development standards in planning, learning, implementing, and evaluating outlined in the Florida Professional Development System Evaluation Protocol. It also guides leaders in taking an inventory of the culture and context of their school in order to plan PD that will be viable given those considerations. The components of the Tool guide teams through assessing school teacher performance and student achievement data to help identify focus groups; determining gaps in learning through root cause analysis; creating goals aligned to gaps in performance; and selecting strategies for professional learning, follow-up support, and evaluation. The development of the Tool was informed by the extant literature on professional development, organizational theory, state and national standards for professional development, and principles of design. The Tool is to be completed in four phases. Phases one and two, the focus of this paper, include the literature review, organizational assessment, design specifications, and the first iteration of the Tool. In the next phases, the goals are to solicit feedback from an expert panel review, create a complete version of the Tool, and pilot it in elementary schools. Although the development of the Tool through its final phases will refine it considerably, there are limitations that will transcend all iterations. While the Tool incorporates best practices in professional development, the lack of empirical evidence on the effectiveness of specific PD elements in the literature renders this Tool only a best guess in helping schools plan effective professional development. Another limitation is that the Tool is not prescriptive and cannot use school data to make decisions for what strategies to implement. Taking these limitations into consideration, the use of this Tool can significantly impact the quality and effectiveness of professional development in schools.
Title: Closing the Gaps in Professional Development: A Tool for School-based Leadership Teams.
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Name(s): Sampayo, Sandra, Author
Boote, David, Committee Chair
Hayes, Grant, Committee Member
Vitale, Thomas, Committee Member
Flanigan, Jacquelyn, Committee Member
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The field of professional learning in education has been studied and added to extensively in the last few decades. Because the importance of learning in authentic contexts through professional dialogue has become so important, high quality, school-based professional learning is vital to building capacity at the school level. Unfortunately, the literature on professional development (PD) does not provide much guidance on how to bridge theory and practice at the school level, creating a gap. With the goal of PD ultimately being to improve teacher performance and student learning, the problem with this gap is that school-level professional development is arbitrarily planned, resulting in variable outcomes. I propose the reason for this is schools lack a comprehensive framework or tool that guides the design of a quality professional learning plan. This problem was identified in Orange County Public School and this dissertation in practice aims at developing a solution that accounts for the district's specific contextual needs. My proposed solution is the design of an integrative tool that school leaders can use to guide them through the professional development planning process. The School-based Professional Learning Design Tool incorporates the professional development standards in planning, learning, implementing, and evaluating outlined in the Florida Professional Development System Evaluation Protocol. It also guides leaders in taking an inventory of the culture and context of their school in order to plan PD that will be viable given those considerations. The components of the Tool guide teams through assessing school teacher performance and student achievement data to help identify focus groups; determining gaps in learning through root cause analysis; creating goals aligned to gaps in performance; and selecting strategies for professional learning, follow-up support, and evaluation. The development of the Tool was informed by the extant literature on professional development, organizational theory, state and national standards for professional development, and principles of design. The Tool is to be completed in four phases. Phases one and two, the focus of this paper, include the literature review, organizational assessment, design specifications, and the first iteration of the Tool. In the next phases, the goals are to solicit feedback from an expert panel review, create a complete version of the Tool, and pilot it in elementary schools. Although the development of the Tool through its final phases will refine it considerably, there are limitations that will transcend all iterations. While the Tool incorporates best practices in professional development, the lack of empirical evidence on the effectiveness of specific PD elements in the literature renders this Tool only a best guess in helping schools plan effective professional development. Another limitation is that the Tool is not prescriptive and cannot use school data to make decisions for what strategies to implement. Taking these limitations into consideration, the use of this Tool can significantly impact the quality and effectiveness of professional development in schools.
Identifier: CFE0005883 (IID), ucf:50889 (fedora)
Note(s): 2015-08-01
Ed.D.
Education and Human Performance, Dean's Office EDUC
Doctoral
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): professional development -- professional development standards -- Florida Evaluation Protocol -- school-based -- school context -- tool -- professional learning plan -- professional development plan -- professional learning -- teacher performance -- data -- framework
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0005883
Restrictions on Access: public 2015-08-15
Host Institution: UCF

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