Guidelines for Reviewing, Approving, and Endorsing Individual Professional Development Plans
District Professional Development Planning
School districts are required annually to adopt and implement a professional development plan for all principals, teachers, other professional staff employed by the district, and school council members. Districts are also required to set forth a budget for professional development within the confines of the foundation budget. The plan must identify specific content to be addressed, including training in the teaching of the curriculum frameworks and other skills required for the implementation of the Education Reform Law, including participatory decision making and parent and community involvement (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 38Q).
The FY01 state budget requires districts to spend at least $125 per student from state aid funds on professional development. These funds may be used for tuition, conference fees, contracted services, stipends, salaries and materials. Districts are responsible for selecting providers of professional development that are of high quality and that address the identified learning needs in the district. Districts also identify the data to be collected on professional growth and on the quality and impact of professional development.
When setting district professional development goals, the most important criterion to be considered is the identified learning needs of the students. Student performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and other standardized tests administered by the district must be a part of identifying educational strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the percentage of students reading at a level appropriate to their age, student graduation rates, the percentage of students continuing on to post-secondary institutions, and other assessments that enable students to demonstrate mastery of the Frameworks and district curricula should be considered.
The Education Reform Act also requires school councils to develop annual School Improvement Plans. Schools are required to include professional development for school staff and allocation of professional development funds in the school budget in the School Improvement Plan. In school districts with language minority student populations, the Plan is to address the need for training and skills in second language acquisition and in working with culturally and linguistically diverse student populations (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 59C).