Professional Development is a key strategy for supporting improvements in education. When educators
are provided with the knowledge and skills to reflect on their practice, to assess their effectiveness, to
study research, and to make decisions about students, a community of continuous learning develops
and goals are more likely to be achieved. To meet the challenge of educating all learners to high levels,
educators need professional development that is intensive, ongoing, and job-embedded to increase
This type of high-quality professional development is influenced by a multitude of factors that can be
classified into three categories:
• Content characteristics – the “what”—the knowledge, skills, and understandings that are the
foundation for the professional development effort.
• Process variables – the “how”—the systems for planning, implementing and refining the professional
development; the driving force should always be student achievement and program implementation
• Context characteristics – the “who, when, where, and why”—high-quality professional development is
supported by considering the link between the professional development and student outcomes;
enhanced by a culture that promotes reflection and risk-taking, and reinforced by policies and resources
to support the effort.
Professional development is essential to continuous improvement and must be seen as an investment in
Alabama’s Action Plan for Literacy: Birth Through Grade 12, p.30.