Professional LearningThe Professional Learning Initiative focuses on providing proactive teacher support to allow educators to be successful in reaching our students.
Educators are on the front lines. They check-in with students, stay connected and often connect families to resources. The California Department of Education (CDE) continues to expand its resources for professional learning, allowing educators to keep current on new research about how children learn as well as new curriculum, resources, and teaching methods. It can also keep educators up-to-date on emerging technology tools for the classroom. We encourage all educators to participate in professional learning throughout their careers.
For more information, visit the CDE Professional Learning Opportunities web page.
Initiatives and Grant Programs
The CDE oversees a number of initiatives and grant programs that provide effective professional learning for educators. The Educator Effectiveness Block Grant provides an unprecedented $1.5 billion investment in professional learning for educators and can be used to assist in diversifying the teacher workforce. The Educator Workforce Investment Grant Program for English Learner Roadmap Policy, Special Education, and Computer Science are also significant investments in professional learning for California educators. The 21st Century California School Leadership Academy Grant Program is a statewide program that provides free, high-quality professional learning for administrators and other school leaders.
The CDE also coordinates the California National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification Incentive Program, which provides subsidies for teachers to become NBPTS certified and annual incentives for teachers who are already certified and working in high-priority schools. The Early Literacy Support Block Grant awards funds to local educational agencies (LEAs) that have the highest percentage of students in grade three scoring at the lowest achievement standard level on the State Summative English Language Arts assessment. The grant funds the development and implementation of a needs assessment, a root cause analysis, and a three-year Literacy Action Plan.
The CDE also received a federal grant, the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant. The California Comprehensive State Literacy Plan (SLP), published in March 2021, is the foundational element to achieving the objectives of the grant. The purpose of the SLP is to align and integrate state literacy initiatives, content standards, and state guidance documents to support teachers of students from birth through grade twelve. Seven Literacy Lead Agencies were selected through a competitive grant process to build expertise in the priorities identified in the SLP and implement the strategies through multiyear small-scale pilots with local districts.
The Reading Instruction and Intervention (RII) Grant Program is authorized to generate and disseminate professional development opportunities for K–12 educators in the areas of evidence-based literacy, intensive literacy interventions, and support of pupils’ executive functioning skills.
The CDE will award the sum of $9.8 million to one or more LEAs with expertise in developing and providing professional development to educators in public schools serving K–12 students to strengthen reading instruction for all pupils and in a manner that aligns with the Statewide System of Support and the SLP. The Request for Application was posted in June.
To learn more about high-quality professional learning, visit the CDE Quality Professional Learning Standards (QPLS) web page. The QPLS identifies characteristics of professional development that are most likely to support educators in building individual and collective capacity to meet professional, school, and student performance expectations. By utilizing the QPLS, educators, policymakers, education officials, and other interested parties will share a common understanding regarding the features of high-quality professional learning and how best to support it. See the QPLS in action by visiting the CDE California Professional Learning Stories web page, which has a collection of videos and resources showcasing high-quality professional development systems in California districts and schools.
Diversifying the Teacher Workforce
Equity for California’s increasingly diverse student population relies on today’s educators viewing differences as assets and not deficits. California’s students have been telling us for years that they need to see themselves and their stories represented in the classroom. And we know that students also want to see people who look like them, and can relate to their backgrounds, as their educators.
The CDE has made diversifying the teacher workforce a priority. In 2020, the CDE and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond established the CDE Educator Diversity Advisory Group. The purpose of the advisory group was to provide recommendations to State Superintendent Thurmond on how the CDE can recruit, support, and retain teachers of color across California. Group members developed a bottom-up approach to policymaking. Specifically, members of the advisory group held four virtual convenings with practitioners across California.
The purpose of these virtual convenings was to document how practitioners were supporting and retaining an ethnoracially diverse educator workforce, the barriers they had faced in diversifying the educator workforce, and their recommendations to the CDE on policy levers aimed at bolstering teacher diversity efforts.
Educator Diversity Advisory Group Recommendations
Key findings and the five recommendations to the CDE can be found in the full report, How to Increase the Diversity of California’s Educator Workforce (PDF), located on the CDE Diversifying the Teacher Workforce web page.
The five primary recommendations made by the CDE Educator Diversity Advisory Group are:
- Create communities of practice for county offices of education and for local school districts to build their capacity to recruit, support, and retain teachers of color.
- Maintain sustainable funding, measure outcomes for teacher diversity, and identify focal support factors at the state, county, and district levels.
- Provide guidance and accountability for LEAs so grant funds support the development of foundational equity-based processes and practices.
- Promote deeper partnerships and collaboration among LEAs, institutes of higher education, and community-based organizations to build institutional pathways for candidates of color.
- Develop a public awareness campaign that highlights how Proposition 209 constrains educator diversity efforts and continue to co-sponsor educator diversity legislation.
Professional Learning is one key part of State Superintendent Thurmond’s Transforming School Initiatives.