Using Evidence to Support Innovation in Teacher Professional Development

This research-and-development partnership, led by AIR, focuses on an innovative program for K-12 teacher professional development. With support from a federal Education Innovation and Research grant, AIR is helping two organizations at the forefront of K-12 teacher professional development—The Danielson Group and Learning Forward—to develop, refine, and test the Professional Learning With Impact program.

The project began in 2018 in a series of conversations between AIR’s Andrew Wayne and Charlotte Danielson—the creator of a widely used rubric designed to support professional learning about classroom practice known as the Framework for Teaching (FfT). The pair reached out to Stephanie Hirsch, who had recently formalized a model for professional learning communities (PLCs) at Learning Forward.

The partners built on their existing resources to create an integrated program in which instructional coaches bring focus to teacher PLC-time, for grade-level teams. The common challenges and goals of the grade-level team provide a starting point for individual, one-on-one coaching, and all learning is grounded in the latest version of the FfT.

To provide a basis for further development and testing of the program, AIR created partnerships with school districts seeking support for PLCs and coaching. Based on the first two cohorts of schools, AIR provided evidence that helped the partners refine the program and prepare to scale it up. The third cohort launched in fall 2021 and incorporates a rigorous study to determine the program’s impacts. Volunteering schools within each district were randomly assigned to two groups: one that receives the program for two years, and another that continues as normal.