Professional Development


The purpose of the Contoocook Valley (ConVal) School District’s Professional Development Master Plan is to clearly outline the processes and procedures that have been put into place to support and enhance the professional learning of certified staff, which will in turn support the learning and achievement of students. Throughout this document, employees covered by the Professional Development Master Plan are referred to as teachers, educators, and professional staff members. These terms shall be regarded as interchangeable for the purpose of this document.

Definition of Professional Learning

Professional learning involves “changes in the thinking, knowledge, skills, and approaches to instruction that form practicing teachers’…repertoire” (Knapp, 2003, pp. 112-113). Based on this definition, the ConVal School District believes that effective professional learning enhances the individual’s capacity, as well as the organization’s capacity, to positively and significantly impact student learning and achievement.

Professional Learning, Educator Effectiveness, and Student Achievement

Researchers have studied, and continue to study, the link between professional learning, educator effectiveness, and student learning. Bausmith and Barry (2011) identified specific features of professional learning that were found to have a positive impact on student achievement. These features include “training over an extended time period (Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloos, & Shapley, 2007), a focus on the subject matter content and how students learn that content (Dopplet et al., 2009; Kennedy, 1998), and opportunities for teacher teams to work collaboratively on student learning (Saunders et al., 2009)” (p. 176). Similarly, Hunzicker (2010) identified five characteristics of effective professional learning opportunities: supportive, job-embedded, instructionally-focused, collaborative, and ongoing.

Hawley and Valli (1999) conducted a meta-analysis that led to the identification of nine principles to consider when designing high-quality professional learning opportunities. These principles are directly related to conditions that cultivate professional learning that leads to improved student learning outcomes:

  1. The content of professional development focuses on what students are to learn and how to address the different problems students may have in learning the material.
  2. Professional development should be based on analyses of the differences between actual student performance and goals and standards for student learning.
  3. Professional development should involve teachers in the identification of what they need to learn and in the development of the learning experiences in which they will be involved.
  4. Professional development should be primarily school-based and built into the day-to-day work of teaching.
  5. Professional development should be organized around collaborative problem-solving.
  6. Professional development should be continuous and ongoing, involving follow-up and support for further learning—including support from sources external to the school that can provide necessary resources and new perspectives.
  7. Professional development should incorporate evaluation of multiple sources of information on learning outcomes for students and the instruction and other processes that are involved in implementing the lessons learned through professional development.
  8. Professional development should provide opportunities to gain an understanding of the theory underlying the knowledge and skills being learned.
  9. Professional development should be connected to a comprehensive change process focused on improving student learning (Hawley & Valli, 1999, pp. 137-143).

The ConVal School District is committed to providing, as well as supporting staff to seek out and engage in, high-quality professional learning opportunities that incorporate the principles and characteristics research has identified as leading to improved student learning.

ConVal Professional Development Master Plan 2023-2027