standards for professional learning

About the standards

T his is the third version of

standards that outline

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the characteristics of

effective professional

learning. This edition,

drawn from research and based on

evidence-based practice, describes

a set of expectations for effective

professional learning to ensure equity and

excellence in educator learning. The standards serve as

indicators that guide the learning, facilitation, implementation,

and evaluation of professional learning.

As with earlier versions of the standards, including the last revision in

2001, Learning Forward invited representatives from leading education

associations and organizations to contribute to the development of

the standards. Together, these representatives reviewed research and

best practice literature to contribute to the standards revision with

consideration of their own constituencies, including teachers, principals,

superintendents, and local and state school board members.

With support from

MetLife Foundation

Quick reference


StandardS for profeSSional




Relationship between professional learning and student results

1. When professional learning is standards-based, it has greater potential to change what educators know, are able to do, and believe.

2. When educators’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions change, they have a broader repertoire of effective strategies to use to adapt their practices to meet performance expectations and student learning needs.

3. When educator practice improves, students have a greater likelihood of achieving results.

4. When student results improve, the cycle repeats for continuous improvement.

This cycle works two ways: If educators are not achieving the results they want, they determine what changes in practice are needed and then what knowledge, skills, and dispositions are needed to make the desired changes. They then consider how to apply the standards so that they can engage in the learning needed to strengthen their practice.

3. Changes

in educator practice

2. Changes

in educator knowledge,

skills, and dispositions

1. Standards-

based professional


4. Changes in

student results

Quick reference guide StandardS for profeSSional learning

S t A n d A R d S f o R P R o f e S S i o n A l l e A R n i n g

Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students …

leARning CommunitieS: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment.

leAdeRShiP: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning.

ReSouRCeS: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning.

dAtA: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning.

leARning deSignS: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcomes.

imPlementAtion: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change.

outComeS: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.

QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE Standards for Professional Learning 800-727-7288



4 prerequisites for effective professional learning

T he seven new standards focus attention on educator learning that relates to successful student learning. Implicit in the standards are several prerequisites for effective professional learning. They are so fundamental that the standards do not identify or describe them. These prerequisites reside where professional learning intersects with professional ethics.

Professional learning is not the answer to all the challenges educators face, but it can significantly increase their capacities to succeed. When school systems, schools, and education leaders organize professional learning aligned with the standards, and when educators engage in professional learning to increase their effectiveness, student learning will increase.

1 educators’ commitment to students, all students,

is the foundation of

effective professional

learning. Committed

educators understand

that they must engage in

continuous improvement

to know enough and be

skilled enough to meet

the learning needs of all

students. as professionals,

they seek to deepen their

knowledge and expand

their portfolio of skills

and practices, always

striving to increase each

student’s performance.

if adults responsible for

student learning do not

continuously seek new

learning, it is not only their

knowledge, skills, and

practices that erode over

time. they also become less

able to adapt to change,

less self-confident, and less

able to make a positive

difference in the lives

of their colleagues and


2 each educator involved in professional learning

comes to the experience

ready to learn.

professional learning is

a partnership among

professionals who engage

with one another to access

or construct knowledge,

skills, practices, and

dispositions. However,

it cannot be effective if

educators resist learning.

educators want and deserve

high-quality professional

learning that is relevant and

useful. they are more likely

to fully engage in learning

with receptive hearts

and minds when their

school systems, schools,

and colleagues align

professional learning with

the standards.

3 Because there are disparate experience levels and use of practice

among educators,

professional learning

can foster collaborative

inquiry and learning that

enhances individual and

collective performance.

this cannot happen

unless educators listen

to one another, respect

one another’s experiences

and perspectives, hold

students’ best interests at

the forefront, trust that their

colleagues share a common

vision and goals, and are

honest about their abilities,

practices, challenges,

and results. professional

accountability for

individual and peer results

strengthens the profession

and results for students.

4 like all learners, educators learn in different ways and at

different rates. Because

some educators have

different learning needs

than others, professional

learning must engage

each educator in timely,

high-quality learning that

meets his or her particular

learning needs. Some may

benefit from more time

than others, different types

of learning experiences, or

more support as they seek

to translate new learning

into more productive

practices. for some

educators, this requires

courage to acknowledge

their learning needs, and

determination and patience

to continue learning until

the practices are effective

and comfortable.

Quick reference guide StandardS for profeSSional learning

QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE Standards for Professional Learning 800-727-7288



SuggeStionS foR uSe

Standards for Professional Learning are designed to set policies and shape practice in professional learning. Improvement is a continuous process without a beginning or end. Because professional learning is at the core of every effort to increase educator effectiveness and results for all students, its quality and effectiveness cannot be left to chance. The standards will guide the efforts of individuals, teams, school and school system staff, public agencies and officials, and nonprofit and for-profit associations or organizations engaged in setting policy, organizing, providing, facilitating, managing, participating in, monitoring, or measuring professional learning to increase educator effectiveness and results for all students.

These standards stimulate dialogue, discussion, and analysis that lead to increased effectiveness in professional learning regardless of the state of current practice. Here are several suggestions for how various types of educators may use the standards to deepen their understanding of effective professional learning and how to strengthen professional learning for all educators. The book Standards for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2011; see ordering information at right) offers a more comprehensive list.

individuAlS CAn:

• Study the standards to develop a foundational knowledge about effective professional learning.

• Use the standards to request improvements in professional learning in which they participate.

• apply the standards to the planning, design, facilitation, and evaluation of professional learning they lead.

SChool StAff CAn:

• Share the standards with external assistance providers who facilitate professional learning with school staff.

• Share the standards with parents, guardians, and community members to foster their support for professional learning as a means to increase student learning.

• Bring the standards into all program implementation or improvement discussions.

SChool SyStem StAff CAn:

• post the standards on or link to the standards from the school system’s website.

• Use the standards as criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of all professional learning.

• prepare a resolution that the school trustees adopt the standards as expectations for all professional learning.

oRdeR the StAndARdS todAy

Have at your fingertips the full text of the standards, including in-depth elaborations for all seven standards, related research citations, a comprehensive introduction, crosswalk between the previous and current versions, and more complete suggestions for use. item #B512 $16 for members $20 for nonmembers order at or call 800-727-7288.

moRe to Come

learning forward, with continuing support from

Metlife foundation, will develop additional tools to support the

implementation and evaluation of the standards.

“Using the standards to shape more effective professional learning will require study, thought, discussion, and planning.”

— Standards for Professional Learning

Quick reference guide StandardS for profeSSional learning

QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE Standards for Professional Learning 800-727-7288

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