Professional Development

For the New Millennium


Office of Leadership Development & Enhancement


In 1982, Mississippi passed a landmark piece of legislation, which began a grassroots wave of education reform that swept the nation. Included in that legislation were mandates for the establishment of a statewide system of professional development which affected every educator in the state. In 1996, the State Board of Education approved a new professional development model which supports educators
in meeting the ever-changing needs of students as they prepare for the challenges of a technologically advanced society.

New curriculum frameworks, performance assessments, increased student performance expectations, and changes in school organization
call for new forms of professional development which assist educators in developing new skills and strategies to effect change in
practice. Professional development must shift from a fragmented system based upon one-shot activities to one which is embedded in the
every day life of the school. It must be planned and implemented by the educators it is designed to serve.

Educators must have time, resources, and opportunities to assess their own teaching methods, to develop and learn new subject matter,
to work together as professionals, to develop and implement school improvement plans, and to stay abreast of current research in their
fields of study. Professional development is essential to school improvement and must be seen as an investment in life-long learning for
all educators.

Mississippi's' model for professional development includes multiple forms of learning intended to be relevant to teachers in the classroom,
as well as supportive of school plans for organizational improvement. It is based upon a shared vision and goals for improving student
performance including achievement, behavior, and attitude. It supports professional development that is intensive, high-quality and of a
sufficient duration to have a positive impact on teaching and learning and ultimately on student success in the classroom.

The model was developed by a professional development work group. Comprised of administrators, teachers and pupil services
personnel from public school districts and representatives from business, community colleges, institutions of higher learning, the
Mississippi Department of Education, and the state legislature. Over a period of six months, work group members shared their progress
with school district consortia, professional and state organizations, advisory boards, and other education support groups. Prior to
finalizing the model, they hosted regional hearings on the proposed draft and revised the document for approval by the State Board of
Education for approval. The state made minor modifications in the model in 1998 and in 2001 to reflect changes in state statute.

This handbook includes the definition and purpose of professional development and identifies the principles of excellence which provide
the foundation for professional development programs. It also contains the requirements for schools and districts as well as individual
educators and describes the nature of the professional development experiences they are encouraged to plan.


Professional development is based on a shared vision and goals for improving student performance derived through a strategic planning process.
Professional development advances individual growth and organizational improvement.
Professional development involves institutional collaboration.
Professional development provides for networking and collegiality.
Professional development models constructivist teaching that builds knowledge through exploring,
debating, questioning, and reflecting.
Professional development provides time and follow-up necessary for change in practice.
Professional development is site-based and school-initiated.
Professional development has an evaluation component that focuses on improvement in teaching
practice and in student results.
Professional development is ongoing and job-embedded.
Professional development enhances knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and child
Professional development is supported by resources of time, money, and personnel.
Professional development addresses the diversity of all learners.
Professional development acknowledges the Standards for Staff Development published by the
National Staff Development Council.
Professional development encourages individuals to generate, articulate, and disseminate knowledge
based on their classroom experiences and action research.
Professional development allows stakeholders to develop and strengthen leadership skills.




Professional development is a growth-promoting learning process that empowers stakeholders* to improve the educational


To improve student learning by creating an environment that will enable stakeholders* to:

invest in quality opportunities to grow individually and collaboratively,

enhance job-related skills

acquire new knowledge, and

share expertise and insights.

*Stakeholders - teachers, administrators, staff, and other school personnel.



Statutory Requirements

In accordance with Section 37-17-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, amended in 1998, each school district shall plan and implement a
comprehensive professional development program that complies with the following:

The professional development plan shall be prepared by a district committee appointed by the superintendent and composed of teachers, administrators, school board members, and lay people

The district superintendent shall approve the plan.

A portion of the plan must be devoted to training for beginning teachers within the district.

A portion of the professional development training for teachers and administrators must be dedicated to the application and utilization of various disciplinary techniques.

Beginning with school year 1998-1999, school districts are not required to submit professional development plans to the Commission on School Accreditation for approval.

State Board of Education Regulations

State Board of Education regulations include the following requirements:

The purpose of the school district professional development program shall be the continuous improvement of student learning and performance.

Each school district professional development program is to be based on the Principles of Excellence in Professional Development .

The program may be district-wide or school-based.

All school district personnel have a contractual obligation to participate in the district's professional program. District professional
development activities can not be used for license renewal. License renewal options are separate from the required district professional development program.

Recommended Practice

To have a quality professional development program, school districts are encouraged to incorporate the following:

A shared vision with goals for improving student performance,

A planning process that fosters team building and shared decision making,

A variety of learning options essential to enhance individual growth and
organizational improvement, and

Time and structure for demonstration, practice, reflection, and sharing.

Successful professional development programs strengthen the effectiveness of the educational organization, lead to improved student
learning and performance, and promote professional growth for all employees.

See Appendix A for additional information on designing professional development.


Educators have the professional and contractual responsibility to participate in the school district's professional development program
and in professional development options for license renewal. The selection of professional development options is to be focused on
improving student learning. Each educator is responsible for selecting and monitoring his/her individual professional development
program. Educators are also responsible for maintaining and submitting documentation for license renewal to the Office of Educator
Licensure in the Mississippi Department of Education. (See Guidelines for Educator Licensure.)

License Renewal Requirements

Within each five-year cycle, an individual must complete the following for license renewal:

Bachelor's degree or equivalent

Ten (10) continuing education units (CEUs) in content area or job/skill* related area
Six (6) semester hours in content area or job/skill* related area
Three (3) semester hours in content area or job/skill* related area
Five (5) continuing education units (CEUs) in content area or job/skill* related area

Master's degree or above

Three (3) semester hours in content area or job/skill* related area
Five (5) continuing education units (CEUs) in content area or job/skill* related

*Content area refers to the area of licensure (e.g., mathematics, science, special education, etc.).
Job/skill related areas include pedagogy and skills essential for effective teaching and leadership
(e.g., computer technology, cooperative learning, learning styles, etc.)



Through varied opportunities for professional development, educators can continue to learn both inside and outside of
local schools and districts. They stay abreast of current knowledge in fields of teaching and learning and improve educational
practices that lead to enhanced student learning. Professional development experiences encourage educators to network
with colleagues and other professionals, as well as to pursue advanced degrees.


In selecting activities to fulfill the requirements for organizational and individual professional
development experiences, it is recommended that the following process be utilized to determine the
appropriate professional development option:

Identify needs

Formulate a plan to meet the needs

Engage in planned activity

Assess professional development experience through reflection and sharing

The intent of the Model is to encourage individuals and organizations to pursue professional
development experiences that are relevant. These experiences may be self-directed, structured, and/or
field-based. They may include, but are not limited to:

Action Research / Partnerships

Apprenticeships / Sabbaticals (Coaching/Mentoring)

Seminars / Institutes / College / University Courses

Internships / Study Groups

National Board Certification / Networks


(For additional information on these options, see Appendix B.)

Conversion of Professional Development Options
to Continuing Education Units

Individual professional development options selected by educators must be converted to CEUs for use in license renewal. Decisions on
the conversion may be made by any approved CEU provider.

Educators should submit a proposal outlining the purpose/intent of the option; what effect it would have on their classrooms, schools, or
districts; the amount of time they expect to invest; and their recommendation for the number of CEUs to be granted. Approved CEU
providers will make final determinations.

Return to Top


Eight Characteristics of Effective Professional Development

The following design characteristics focus on professional development strategies that research has shown to be essential
to improving students' learning over time. To be effective, professional development should:

1. Be driven by analysis of the differences between (a) goals and standards for student learning and (b) student performance (Miller,
Lord and Dorney 1994; Fullan 1991; Howey and Collinson 1995). Such analyses define what educators need rather than what they
want to learn, make professional development student-centered, and provide evidence about the usefulness of alternative strategies for
school improvement.

2. Involve learners (e.g., teachers) in identifying what they need to learn and, when possible, in developing the learning opportunity or
process to be used (Little 1993; Miller, Lord and Dorney 1994; Tillema and Imants 1995; Borko and Putnam 1995). This engagement
increases educators' motivation to learn and makes it more likely that what is learned will be meaningful and relevant to particular

contexts and problems.

3. Be primarily school-based and integral to school operations (Little 1993; Smylie 1995; Guskey 1995; Grossman 1992;
Feiman-Nemser and Parker 1992; Little and McLaughlin 1993; Joyce and Showers 1995). Providing educators opportunities to
recognize and solve authentic problems is often a powerful form of staff development.

4. Provide learning opportunities that relate to individual needs but are organized around collaborative problem solving (Little 1993;
Miller, Lord, and Dorney 1994; Guskey 1995; Huberman 1995; Rosenholtzz 1989; Hargreaves 1994; Fullan 1991). Working together to
address issues of common concern helps educators identify both causes and potential solutions to problems. Through collaboration,
educators can clarify learning needs and share knowledge and expertise.

5. Be continuous and ongoing, involving follow-up and support for further learning--including support from sources external to the
school (National Education Association 1995; Miller, Lord, and Dorney 1994; NCRTE 1991; Guskey 1995). As educators put into
practice what they've learned from professional development, they often discover that they need to know more to be effective. If that
need for learning is not met, educators will likely not increase either their professional competence or student achievement; they'll
probably also be less motivated to pursue other professional development opportunities. Although most professional development should
be school based, educators also need to enrich this learning with new ideas and knowledge from sources beyond the school.

6. Encourage educators to systematically evaluate the results of their efforts to apply what they've learned through staff development.
The best evaluations involve analyzing multiple sources of information on both student outcomes and the implementation process (Little
1993; Guskey 1995; Tillema and Imants 1995; NCRTE 1991; Joyce and Showers 1995). Knowing the extent to which professional
development has influenced student achievement and why (or why not) contributes to the design of, and incentives for, further learning.

7. Provide opportunities to engage in developing a theoretical understanding of the knowledge and skills to be learned (Borko and
Putnam 1995; Feiman-Nemser and Parker 1992; Fullan 1991; McDiarmid 1994; Tillema and Imants 1995; Eraut 1995, NCRTE 1991;
Joyce and Showers 1995). Virtually all educational ideas and practices need to be adapted to particular students and contexts. Such
modification is more likely to be effective when it is informed by a theory in which the educator has confidence.

8. Be integrated with a comprehensive change process that deals with the impediments to, and facilitators of, student learning (Little
1993; Smylie 1995; Guskey 1995; Joyce and Showers 1995). For professional development to be effective, what is learned must be
practiced. Too often, educators learn new things they cannot act upon because there is no organizational commitment to continual
experimentation and improvement.

Valli, L., Hawley, W.D. "The Essentials of Effective Professional Development: A New Consensus." Professional Development Newsletter Fall 1996: 1-2. Copyright ©1996 by ASCD. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Return to top


Action Research is a disciplined process that involves educators in actively solving real problems in teaching and learning. It includes
collecting and analyzing data to diagnose problems, researching potential solutions, acting on selected approaches and assessing and
sharing the results. There are many types of action research including that which is conducted by an individual or small group of
educators to improve practice or action research which is undertaken by an entire faculty to improve schoolwide performance.

Apprenticeships/Internships provide opportunities for educators to work and learn while gaining practical on-the-job experience under
the direct supervision of an experienced expert practitioner. Examples include business/industry internships in which educators work with
local businesses to gain greater understanding of the demands of the current workplace in relation to curriculum and instruction.

Coaching/Mentoring is a peer-to-peer interaction aimed at improving performance. Partners select each other and work on problems
voluntarily. The primary purpose is support, not evaluation; thus peers are more appropriate partners in this professional growth

College/University Courses provide opportunities to expand content knowledge and acquire advanced degrees. The content and format
of courses for educators are expected to reflect the principles of excellence. Educators may apply courses in their content area (e.g.,
mathematics, science, special education, etc.) or in a job/skill related area (e.g., technology, methodology, learning styles, etc.) to the
renewal of their license.

National Board Certification through its application process, requires teachers to document their practices, reflect on their strengths and
weaknesses, and demonstrate specific knowledge and skill in relation to standards established by the National Board of Professional
Teaching Standards. This experience provides excellent professional development for teachers, and the standards provide an outstanding
guide for planning professional development opportunities.

Networks are groups of educators who share a common experience, concern or interest. They generally focus on specific subject matter
and seek to deepen content knowledge and enhance professional practice. Networks provide powerful learning opportunities because
they engage people in collective work on authentic issues. They allow educators to get beyond their own classrooms and schools and
consider different perspectives and possibilities. The Mississippi Writing Project and the Onward to Excellence Network are examples
of current networks in Mississippi.

Partnerships are collaboratives in which each partner complements the other in achieving what neither can achieve alone. There are
many rights and responsibilities depending on each partner's willingness to collaborate and to give up a measure of independence.
Partners enter into a formal agreement to engage in a specified activity together.

Sabbaticals are periods of leave (of varying lengths) granted to educators to pursue job-related experiences that provide new insights and
enhance knowledge and skills. In addition they break the cycle of continued performance of the same job over a period of time.
Examples include travel, research, studies of other educational systems, etc.

Seminars/Institutes are intensive learning experiences that typically serve the purpose of substantive content and professional renewal.
They may present new ways of thinking about school topics or alternate methods of engaging students in learning. Whatever the
emphasis, it is the intensity of study that most characterizes the seminar/ institute as a professional development option. They offer
focused, continuous investigation of topics or themes that cannot be explored in occasional workshops.

Study Groups are small collaborative groups organized and sustained by participating educators who seek to learn about a topic of
common interest. Study groups may be organized within individual schools, districts, or beyond. Such groups provide a time and
structure where educators can discuss educational issues, where learning is ongoing and where norms of professional collaboration can

Workshops are brief intensive educational training programs that involve relatively small groups of educators in participatory
problem-solving. The most effective training programs include exploration of theory, trials of new skills with feedback and reflection, as
well as coaching and other forms of support within the workplace.

Return to Top


Corcoran, Thomas. "Helping Teachers Teach Well: Transforming Professional Development."
CPRE Policy Briefs. June 16, 1995, 1-12.

Darling-Hammond, Linda.; and McLaughlin, Milbrey W. "Policies That Support Professional
Development in an Era of Reform." Phi Delta Kappan. April 1995, 597-604.

Guskey, Thomas R. "Results-Oriented Professional Development: In Search of an Optimal Mix
of Effective Practices." Journal of Staff Development. 15 (Fall 1994): 42-50.

Houghton, Mary.; and Paul Goren. "Professional Development for Educators: New State Priorities and Models."
Professional Development for Educators. 1995, 1-26.

Lieberman, Ann. "Practices That Support Teacher Development." Phi Delta Kappan.
April 1995, 591-596.

Little, J. W. "Professional Development Training." Professional Development Newsletter.
(Spring 1995): 4-7.

O'Neil, John. "On Schools as Learning Organizations: A Conversation with Peter Senge."
Educational Leadership. April 1995, 20-23.

Sparks, Dennis. "A Paradigm Shift in Staff Development." Journal of Staff Development.
15 (Fall 1994): 26-29.

"Standards for Staff Development [Elementary School, Middle Level and High School Level
Editions]." Oxford, Ohio: National Staff Development Council,1995,1994.

"State Policies to Improve the Teacher Workforce: Shaping the Profession That Shapes America's Future." Recruiting New
Teachers, Inc., and The National Conference of State Legislatures Symposium
, November 1992.

Return to Top

Return to Assistant Superintendent | JCSD

Section 504 | Section 508 Accessibility Statement