SDE: Professional Development

Overview of Connecticut's Professional Development Guidelines

Standards-Based Practice

In 1999, the Connecticut State Board of Education adopted two sets of standards of professional practice and performance expectations: the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT) for teachers, and the Standards for School Leaders (SSL) for administrators. Based on these standards, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) developed two sets of guidelines to direct and assist districts in developing standards-based (CCT and SSL), integrated district evaluation and professional development plans.

These documents, along with Connecticut Statutes on Professional Development, may be found on the CSDE website at:

Standards: Common Core of Teaching and Standards for School Leaders
[PDF, 545KB]
Guidelines: Connecticut’s Commitment to Continuous Improvement [PDF, 1.1MB] and School Leader Evaluation and Professional Development Guidelines.

CT Statutes: (Look up CT Statute 10-145b; 10-151b; 10-220a)

Both Standards and Guidelines serve to focus practice on teaching and learning.

Integrating Professional Development

During the past decade, Connecticut has transformed professional development into an integrated evaluation and professional development process. Instead of viewing professional development and evaluation as distinct processes, professional development is implemented in support of the performance and job expectation of the individual teacher or school leader, thus directly linking and providing meaningful evaluation and support processes. This shift has involved refocusing on capacity building in order to improve student achievement, and is reflected in four of the guiding principles used for the development of both the teacher and school leader evaluation and professional development guidelines. They state:

1. Teacher and Administrator competence is affected positively by the integration of evaluation and professional development.
2. Student Learning is directly affected by teacher and administrator competence.
3. Administrators, like students and teachers, must be continual learners.
4. The gaps between expectations for student performance and actual student performance should guide the content of professional development.

A list of indicators of sound practice in developing professional development programs, drawn from Connecticut's Guidelines for Teacher and School Leader Evaluation and Professional Development follows. You will also find links to two sets of national standards of professional development that you may refer to when developing your district plan.

What Connecticut's Guidelines say about district professional development programs…

Quality Professional Development (PD) Practices:


  • PD is focused on building the capacity of teachers to improve student learning (individually, in small group, and as members of a school community).
  • PD options are based on teacher growth needs.
  • PD directly supports teacher goals, which are linked to school goals.
  • PD reflects the accountability system built into the school and district system, i.e. is job-embedded and reflects the expectations for accomplished practice.
  • PD is purposefully linked to the CCT or the SSL.
  • PD plan includes programs that showcase best instructional and leadership practices.


  • PD programs are challenging, job-embedded, and thought provoking.
  • PD programs are data and research-based.
  • PD programs provide opportunities for staff to learn from their peers.
  • PD plans include programs presented by in-house staff, i.e. school leaders and teacher leaders.
  • PD is differentiated by teachers' and school leaders' level of experience and professional growth needs.
  • PD provides opportunities for reflection and practice, and occurs over time.
  • PD programs utilize multiple instructional practices to address the preferences and needs of adult learners.
  • Teachers and school leaders jointly design the school's PD program.
  • PD plan provides both on-site and off-site opportunities for learning.
  • PD programs include opportunities for (and are purposefully designed for) within group discourse (teacher to teacher; principal to principal; teachers within a content area) and across group discourse (teachers and administrators; across content areas; guidance counselors and teachers).
  • Teachers and school leaders play an active role in self-identifying the PD they need to support them in meeting their evaluation goals and job responsibilities.
  • PD plan provides substantial opportunities to earn CEUs to maintain certification requirements.


  • PD programs include an assessment of teachers' and/or school leaders' prior knowledge.
  • PD plan is periodically evaluated for its effectiveness in changing teachers' classroom practices and improving student learning.
  • PD plan is periodically evaluated for its effectiveness in providing school leaders with the skills and tools to meet the goals of the school improvement plan.
  • Documentation of PD (form, worksheet) is designed to help a teacher/school leader make the link between the PD program, the individual's goals, and the school goal or the school improvement plan - thus making meaningful the connection between performance expectations and support.
  • All PD programs delineate "next steps" or processes for the application and assessment of new learning.
  • PD plan and CEU offerings are evaluated annually to ensure that teachers and administrators are continuously provided professional growth opportunities that meet the above-mentioned standards of quality professional development.

NSDC Standards
The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) has developed national standards for developing quality professional development programs and has published a new book entitled, "Designing Powerful Professional Development for Teachers and Principals," - both are available free of charge at their website at Additionally this national organization hosts an annual conference, publishes the National Journal of Staff Development, and provides additional tools for developing student-centered professional development programming.

ISLLC Standards
Connecticut is a member of The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), and participated in the development of the ISLLC Professional Development Standards for School Leaders. These standards include five Professional Development Propositions, which state, "ISLLC believes that quality professional development…
1. Validates teaching and learning as the central activities of the school,
2. Engages all school leaders in planful, integrated, career-long learning to improve student achievement,
3. Promotes collaboration to achieve organizational goals while meeting individual needs,
4. Models effective learning processes, and
5. Incorporates measures of accountability that direct attention to valued learning outcomes.

ISLLC also developed ten Key Professional Development Characteristics:

1. Standards-based
Professional development experiences should be based on current research and thinking about what school leaders need to know and be able to do. At the national level, this has taken the form of ISLLC standards.

2. Results-driven/Performance-based
Professional development should focus on increasing a school leader's knowledge and skills that will ultimately affect school improvement and student achievement. An integral component should be the application of skills in real world settings.

3. Impacts Teaching and Learning
The ultimate goal of professional development for school leaders should be the improvement of teaching and learning. It should focus on the acquisition of knowledge and skills needed to facilitate improvement in teaching and learning.

4. Provides for the Continuous Improvement of the School Leader and the Organization
Professional development that addresses professional growth and the attainment of organizational goals must be viewed as a continuous process.

5. Addresses Individual Needs
The individual and specific needs of leaders must be addressed in quality professional development. Opportunities for individuals to assess their needs in relation to standards should be provided. To be effective, professional development must incorporate individual learning styles and adult learning theory.

6. Links Research and Practice
Professional development should be based on current research and should relate that knowledge to best leadership practices.

7. Embedded in the Day-to-Day Work of the School Leader
Professional development should be based on the realities of each participant's work environment. Participants need to engage in relevant, meaningful experiences that reflect the critical issues and tasks facing them in their daily work.

8. Includes Reflective Practice
Opportunities to reflect on new learning and how it relates to required roles of school leaders need to be included in quality professional development. Activities should require reflection on new learning, and include journal writing and portfolio development.

9. Provides for Collaborative Learning
Learning has strong social components that need to be incorporated into effective professional development. The social nature of learning provides support to participants and encourages groups to work together to provide more meaningful experiences that result in increased learning.

10. Occurs Over Time and Includes Appropriate Follow-up
Effective professional development is not a one-time occurrence. It needs to be reinforced and supported over time through extensive follow-up, including professional development strategies such as mentoring or coaching.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) has developed a comprehensive packet of information entitled, "Standards Based Professional Development for School Leaders", available for a fee through its website at:


Additional information on the State's CEU requirements.

If you require further information or have a technical question regarding this site, contact us.

Content Last Modified on 11/30/2006 12:56:23 PM