Vermont is one example of a state with a Professional Learning Network. Launched in 2013, it is a statewide system for professional learning related to two objectives: instructional leadership and Common Core implementation.
Across the country, states like Vermont are actively creating online hubs for professional learning, with a goal of providing convenient and equitable access to teachers in rural and urban areas alike. These range from offering full-credit courses to providing a variety of professional development resources to fostering professional learning communities.
Such state activity is one of the trends discussed in PreK-12 Professional Learning Market 2016, a new report from Simba Information that details the transformation from professional development to professional learning in the school market today. Simba Information examines the professional development segment, now often referred to as professional learning, for teachers, administrators, and other educators. The focus is on:
- factors influencing change in the market,
- challenges facing the sector, and
- forces driving demand, both currently and in the coming years.
States accounted for almost 30% of spending in professional learning in 2015-2016, according to Simba estimates. And, state spending is expected to grow at a 1.7% compound annual rate between 2015-2016 and 2020-2021.
Increasing State Action
The Every Student Succeeds Act requires all professional development to be evidence-based. That will lead to states to take on an additional role, said Matthew Nathan, senior director, development, at WestEd. Nathan said states likely will assume responsibility for:
- evaluating evidence-based professional learning and
- providing a recommended list for schools classified as CSI (comprehensive support) or TSI (targeted support for persistent or large achievement gaps).
Part of the mission of the Vermont initiative was to create a website to provide easy access to all of the events and courses provided through the network, event registration, handouts associated with each events, a library of video learning modules, and online self-paced mini-courses developed as part of the contract.
The state contracted with three organizations—the Champlain Valley Educator Development Center, Lamoille Area Professional Development Academy, and the Vermont Learning Collaborative—to implement the initiative in the 2013-2016 period.