B-1. What is meant by “high-quality professional development”?

The term “high-quality professional development” means professional development that meets the criteria contained in the definition of professional development in Title IX, Section 9101(34) of ESEA.  Professional development includes, but is not limited to, activities that:

  • Improve and increase teachers’ knowledge of academic subjects and enable teachers to become highly qualified;
  • Are an integral part of broad schoolwide and districtwide educational improvement plans;
  • Give teachers and principals the knowledge and skills to help students meet challenging State academic standards;
  • Improve classroom management skills;
  • Are sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused and are not one-day or short-term workshops;
  • Advance teacher understanding of effective instruction strategies that are based on scientifically based research; and
  • Are developed with extensive participation of teachers, principals, parents, and administrators.

B-2. What strategies can States use to help LEAs adopt and implement more effective teacher professional development activities?

States can, for example: 

  • 1. develop guidance on effective strategies for improving teacher quality and provide that guidance to the LEAs;
  • 2. adopt a formal statement of State priorities;
  • 3. improve technical assistance and monitoring for LEAs;
  • 4. sponsor conferences and other meetings that address issues related to improving teacher performance; and
  • 5. disseminate information about successful programs and practices.

In providing this assistance, States should consider the needs of all teachers - whether they are regular classroom teachers, special education teachers, or teachers of English language learners - so that a unified, comprehensive system of professional development is available to all who need to be highly qualified.  States might also provide guidance to LEAs on effective ways of coordinating resources available for professional development from programs such as Title I and Title III of the ESEA and IDEA, Part B.

B-3. The statute authorizes LEAs to use program funds for “teacher advancement initiatives that promote professional growth and emphasize multiple career paths, such as paths to becoming a career teacher, mentor teacher, or exemplary teacher…” [Section 2113(c)(14)].  What are some options by which LEAs can implement these activities?

Too often, the best career advancement option currently available for teachers is to become school principals or LEA administrators.  This leaves fewer excellent, experienced teachers working directly with children in the classroom.  Teacher advancement initiatives that offer multiple career paths can provide professional opportunities without having teachers leave the classroom.  For example, an LEA could establish a system whereby teachers could opt to pursue various career paths, such as:

  • becoming a career teacher, staying in the classroom with traditional instructional duties;
  • becoming a mentor teacher, staying in the classroom but taking on additional duties such as mentoring first-year teachers and receiving additional pay for these duties; or
  • becoming an exemplary teacher, based on a distinguished record of increasing student academic achievement, and training other teachers to do the same while receiving additional pay for these duties.

B-4. Does the law contain any restrictions on the amount of Title II, Part A funds that an SEA may spend on professional development?

No.  However, in considering how to spend its State-level funds, the SEA should focus on its need to ensure that all teachers its LEAs employ who teach in core academic subjects meet the requirements for a highly qualified teacher by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

B-5. In many rural areas, offering high-quality professional development activities can be challenging because there may not be a critical mass of teachers who need help in the same subject.  How can rural districts address this situation?

 One possible way that rural districts can provide teachers with professional development activities is by offering distance-learning opportunities.  Many State colleges and universities currently offer distance learning.  Through distance learning a teacher in a rural area can take professional development courses that meet his/her specific needs.  For example, the Department recently awarded a grant to the Western Governors University (WGU) to develop and implement teacher training and certification courses.  WGU is currently seeking State approvals for its teacher licensure and certification programs.  WGU’s website, at, explains how teachers from any location can access services.

B-6. What types of professional development can assist veteran teachers to develop and demonstrate subject-matter competence?

States have the flexibility, in designing their HOUSSE procedures, to determine the extent to which various types of professional development activities can assist teachers to develop and demonstrate subject-matter competence.  For instance, States may determine how professional development provided by particular institutions or organizations (e.g., universities or community colleges, textbook publishers, curriculum developers, comprehensive school reform model developers, or any other specialized in-service training provider) contributes to a teacher’s subject-area knowledge.  However, unless it is unusually intensive, a single professional development experience by itself will not provide the content knowledge necessary to enable a teacher not new to the profession to demonstrate subject-matter competency.

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