What is Quality Professional Development

Professional development is defined as those processes and activities designed to enhance the professional knowledge, skills and attitudes of educators to improve the learning of students.  In order to accomplish this, professional development should be deliberate and intentional based on a clear vision of purpose and planned goals.

Professional development should be viewed as a career long experience of activities embedded in the job that provides opportunities for professional growth.  This is not the exclusive right or privilege of any particular level of employee and it is an entitlement for all throughout the educational system.  However, in light of the attention being given to academic achievement and its relationship to teacher evaluation, professional development is recognized as a means to the improvement of both.  A formula for the development of quality professional development is:
Student Education Goals Minus Actual Student Performance Equals Student Learning Gaps
Staff Skills Needed to Close Student Gaps Minus Actual Staff Skills Equals Professional Development Needs

Following are criteria for assessing quality professional development:

  • Is it for the purpose of enhancing, teaching and learning?
  • Is it consistent with building and district school improvement plans and district strategic plans and achievement goals?
  • Is it part of an ongoing comprehensive professional development plan that addresses the professional needs of the individual as well as the change of practice in the building and district?
  • Is it characterized by the knowledge of education needs of students, the study of proven research and inclusive of the best use of new technologies?

Section 380.1526 of the School Code mandates the provision of professional development for new teachers during their first three years of teaching.  It is the responsibility of the employing district to provide this.

Section 380.1527 requires the provision of five days of professional development annually for all teachers.  For new teachers, this is in addition to that required by Section 1526.

Opportunities for professional development are provided by sources external to school districts.  However, the agency/institution provider must be approved by the State Board of Education to offer State Continuing Education Contact Hours (SCECHs).

Hours of professional development may be used to renew the Provisional (initial) Teaching Certificate.  They are also an option to advance from the Provisional to the Professional (advanced) Teaching Certificate and the renewal of it.  Guidelines developed by the Michigan Department of Education Office of Professional Preparation Services are provided to illustrate examples of activities that qualify as appropriate professional development for compliance with both sections of the law.

The Professional Development and Human Rights (PDHR) Department of MEA is a viable resource for the provision of quality professional development.  This is offered through special presentations, workshops, conferences, webinars and on-line.  MEA members have free access to on-line professional development programs that are approved for State Board Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs).  There is no charge for this when these hours (SCHECHs) are used solely to meet the annual professional development requirement.  Other on-line programs, including training modules for classroom management, new teachers, Educational Support Professionals and technology are also offered by MEA.  These and any other MEA on-line programs taken to earn SCHECHs or for the graduate credit option for certificate renewal or advance does involve a fee.
Questions and additional information concerning professional development may be directed to clogan@mea.org.