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Quality Professional Learning at a Distance

Guidance and resources to support quality remote professional learning.

California’s research-based Quality Professional Learning Standards (QPLS) identify characteristics of professional learning (PL) that are most likely to support educators to improve student outcomes. As district and site leaders support teachers adjusting to distance learning (DL) models, they are learning how to move their supports online. Below you will find practical guidance for aligning remote PL experiences to the QPLS.

Quality Professional Learning at a Distance Module

This module is intended to support local educational agencies (LEAs) by providing guidance regarding quality remote professional learning aligned to the QPLS and examples of remote professional learning from California LEAs.

This video is 14 minutes and 34 seconds in length.

Aligning Remote Professional Learning to the QPLS


Quality PL is designed to ensure equitable outcomes. Data that is used to inform remote PL should be disaggregated by student groups in order to identify the most critical student needs, and remote PL should improve educator understanding of the cultural, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of each learner. Access to remote PL should be equitable by ensuring all educators have the resources to participate fully.

Resources: CDE Social and Emotional Support in Distance Learning, Equity and Access chapters of CA Curriculum Frameworks, Asset-Based Pedagogies, CDE Distance Learning Guidance, and Collaborative for Academic, Social, Emotional Learning External link opens in new window or tab. (CASEL) resources

Design and Structure

Quality PL is designed and structured to be ongoing, intensive, and embedded in practice. The purpose and focus of remote PL should be clear and agreed upon. Remote PL should be systematized and differentiated to include opportunities for teachers to analyze their own practice and apply new learning. Scheduling of PL events should be convenient for teachers and recorded for those who cannot participate. Online PL sessions are facilitated with great care External link opens in new window or tab. with expertise in the platform and features, clear and timely communication with participants, structures that support the effective flow of the session, and anticipation of challenges. Remote PL events provide opportunities to engage with content and peers in a variety of ways to promote active engagement such as frequent discussion/question breaks, polling, break out rooms, back channel chats, and engagement with open content, including digital white boards.

Resources: Learning Forward External link opens in new window or tab., Future Ready Schools External link opens in new window or tab., CDE PL Stories, Improvement Science External link opens in new window or tab., and Continuous Improvement


Quality PL is rooted in student and educator needs demonstrated through data. Collect data from early efforts to transition to DL regarding what is working well and what needs improvement before fall 2020. In addition to academic and instructional data, data regarding social-emotional learning (SEL), wellness, and communication for students, families and educators is also important. Data should be gathered regarding remote PL events and instructional supports, and data support should be readily available.

Resources: Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments and California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS)

Content and Pedagogy

Quality PL is focused on content and pedagogy. Administrators and teachers build a shared understanding of what quality DL looks like and what the system needs in order to achieve it. Logic models can be helpful for designing the path forward. Instructional leaders External link opens in new window or tab. support teachers in building confidence in the DL environment by providing opportunities to learn and experiment with tools and resources. Remote PL sessions are also facilitated with adult SEL in mind.

Resources: CDE Distance Learning Guidance, CA Curriculum Frameworks, Learning Forward External link opens in new window or tab., and National Standards for Quality Online Learning External link opens in new window or tab. (NSQOL)

Collaboration and Shared Accountability

Quality PL is collaborative with an emphasis on shared accountability. Remote PL should address the strain of isolation by providing opportunities for video conferencing, digital environments for educators to stay in touch with each other, and ensuring teachers have agency in determining the focus of PL. Community of practice models continue in remote PL with digital tools to try new approaches and share results with colleagues, common planning, peer observation, and receiving support. Collaboration extends beyond school and district boundaries as all educators learn and grow in this new context.

Resources: Learning Forward External link opens in new window or tab. , Continuous Improvement, and Instructional Leadership External link opens in new window or tab.


Quality PL is supported by adequate resources. Ensure all educators have the necessary resources and equipment to access remote PL. Districts and schools should leverage funding flexibilities and opportunities. Leaders should identify and make use of local expertise and experience to support PL. Use strategic planning to focus resources on immediate needs without losing perspective on long-term growth.

Resources: PL at a Distance Funding Guidance, Framework for Labor-Management Collaboration, Labor Management Initiative External link opens in new window or tab.

Alignment and Coherence

Quality PL is coherent and aligned with other standards, policies, and programs. Federal and state requirements and expectations have been changing to support schools and districts during this time. Familiarity and monitoring of these changes can help to focus on immediate PL needs and priorities and align local policies, structures, and practices. Continue to use and adapt, as much as possible, current curriculum, learning management systems, and PL structures to maintain continuity.

Resources: CDE COVID-19 guidance, CA Curriculum Frameworks, CA Content Standards, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, Early Education Guidance, Special Education Guidance, English Learner Guidance, and Expanded Learning Guidance

Additional Remote PL Resources

Questions:   Educator Excellence and Equity Division | | 916-319-0600
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 24, 2023