In an era of increased accountability for student results, improving teachers’ daily instructional and classroom management practice is critical to success. In other sectors, organizational leaders work with and through a leadership team that helps employees at all levels continue to improve and adopt new behaviors and actions when goals change.
Here’s the challenge: Few schools have developed and funded a cadre of teacher-leaders with the authority, training, and support to lead change at the classroom level. In most districts, teachers must leave the classroom to lead peers; non-principal leadership roles are rare and rarely come with significant pay supplements.
In fact, many districts and schools fail to adequately track how much they invest in professional learning in general, much less whether those investments lead to improved instructional practice and student learning. This is in part because of the complexity of current funding streams, and because schools and districts struggle to determine what counts as a professional learning cost. Should teacher evaluation, for example, be included? What about teacher substitute time for professional learning days?
Therefore, schools and districts that want to invest in teacher-led professional learning need to determine what their goals are, then clarify what they are spending and whether that can and should be reallocated to better support these professional learning goals. One clear consideration is matching the nature of the funding source with the goal. A short-term grant should not be used to fund an intended long-term salary increase for leading professional learning on the job, for example, if a sustainable, long-term source is available.
In seeking funding for initial or ongoing costs, schools might consider calculating and sharing the savings in other costs—such as preventing costly, unwanted staff turnover—and productivity gains when teacher-leader roles lead to better staff retention and stronger outcomes for more students.
Below you will find links to resources on the following topics:
- General resources for funding TLPL
- Resources on federal funding for professional learning
- Case studies and examples
General resources for funding TLPL
Matching Teacher-Led Professional Learning Costs With Sustainable Funding Sources: Overview chart of funding sources for teacher-led professional learning, as well as a description of some broad and specific cost categories; districts and schools interested in fully and sustainably funding teacher-led professional learning can use this chart as a guide to considering how different funding sources might be used to support a range of professional learning activities
Note to Districts: Your Professional Development Funds May be Slipping Away: Small study from Education Resource Strategies of professional development spending in seven districts finds much unsustainable funding
Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Investing in Professional Learning: Learning Forward brief argues for need to change professional learning funding allocations to meet Common Core State Standards, with recommendations for new process
Cost Allocation Model for Shared District Resources: A Means for Comparing Spending Across Schools: CRPE working paper proposes a cost allocation model for policymakers to use to better understand costs and funding distribution for professional learning
Redesigning Schools to Reach Every Student with Excellent Teachers: Financial Planning Summary: Public Impact brief includes how to pay teacher-leaders more and fund time for them to conduct on-the-job professional learning in Opportunity Culture schools
A New Vision For Teacher Professional Growth & Support: Six Steps to a More Powerful School System Strategy: Research, experience, and case studies lead Education Resource Strategies to propose key steps on approach to teacher professional growth; one in a series
Professional Growth & Support System Self-Assessment: Tool from Education Resource Strategies for district to determine how well its practices align with effective professional growth and support principles; one in a series
Professional Growth & Support Spending Calculator: Worksheets to quantify district spending on teacher professional growth and support; one in a series
Teacher Pay and Career Advancement: A Leader’s Guide to Sustainably Funded Excellence: Public Impact summary of how states and districts can let top teachers advance, reach more students, and develop peers on the job in teacher-led teams, for sustainably higher pay
Financial Planning for Multi-Classroom Leadership: Short paper from Public Impact shows how Multi-Classroom Leadership job model can free funds and teachers’ time to lead on-the-job professional learning
Resources on federal funding for professional learning
Funding Sources for Educator Professional Development: ASCD resource lists federal programs that support professional development and how funds are distributed
Federal Programs for Pre-K–12 Teachers: Resource from New America Foundation provides detailed information with links to federal funding programs—from comprehensive federal grants to individual teacher grants
Giving Every Student Access to Excellent Teachers: Center for American Progress and Public Impact explain potential federal government role in expanding every student’s access to excellent teaching, attracting and retaining top teachers, and providing on-the-job development and higher pay
Case studies and examples
Inside the Black Box of School District Spending on Professional Development: Lessons from Comparing Five Urban Districts: Education Resource Strategies profiles include information about districts’ professional learning cost structures and funding strategies
Teacher Leadership and Compensation System: Explains Iowa’s new career ladder that rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities and higher pay; 39 districts participated in first year, with goal of all districts participating by 2017