The evidence base around teacher professional learning has advanced significantly over the past decade. Robust research efforts and recent literature reviews offer new insights into how—and how not—to design PL programs in ways that maximize their potential for improving teacher practice and student experiences. Yet many PL design features are not yet standard across the field. The Research Partnership for Professional Learning published an earlier brief that debunked some long-standing myths about effective teacher PL. In a follow-up, we turn to emerging evidence on the promising features of PL that support ongoing teacher learning and development.
Our interpretation of the recent literature suggests that several design features characterize PL that more effectively improves instructional practice and student outcomes across classrooms and contexts. Some focus on how PL is delivered (formats) and others on what gets covered (foci). While any given PL experience for teachers reflects a combination of these features, understanding the specific formats and foci that boost teacher and student outcomes across studies is instructive.