The art of retooling educational staff development in a period of retrenchment

by Milbrey Wallin McLaughlin, Paul Berman

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Educational staff development is increasingly recognized as a critical concern for school districts, and there is consensus that current practices are poor. The budget pressures brought about by declining enrollment exacerbate staff development needs. Staff development activities in most districts consist typically of a hodgepodge of irrelevant workshops and courses. From research at Rand on the change agent study the authors have observed some districts with successful teacher and staff training. Such effective programs are characterized by the following: (1) Discretionary funds as well as considerable authority is provided principals and teachers for training. (2) Principals are required to participate in staff training activities. (3) Programs do not comprise standardized district workshops; instead small groups of four to eight within a school work collaboratively on the same need. (4) Joint governance by teachers and administrators determine the staff development needs and activities. (5) Instead of monetary incentives for staff training, release time and opportunity for staff-identified professional growth activities are used.

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