RI Statewide Professional Development I-Plans
Design and Implementation
Overview of the I-Plan
Each eligible educator wanting to renew a three-year provisional certificate or a five-year professional certificate may write an individual professional development plan. This plan is goals-driven and informed by a self-study process. The self-study process asks the educator to examine four focus areas:
Once completed, the self-study helps to focus the educator on two to four goals that will direct the kinds of professional development selected over the 3-5 year renewal period. The professional development can be any professional growth opportunity that matches the 10 categories of Qualifying Professional Development Activities in the document generated by the original design team.
The plan is reviewed for approval by a three-member team of peers who are part of a Statewide Review Panel. At the end of each year, the educator submits a portfolio of verification documents to this review panel. A culminating portfolio at the end of the renewal cycle must also include reflections and artifacts attesting to the impact on teaching and learning from professional development for each goal.
In the first year of the pilot, 1999-2000, the Rhode Island Department of Education assigned an education specialist to the I-Plan and hired a Regents Fellow (a teacher on loan to the Department from a school district, on a teacher's schedule) to coordinate the program with her. Sixteen (16) educators comprised the original cohort of I-Planners, and 16 educators also served on the Statewide Review Panel. Some of these review panelists were also I-Planners in the original cohort, having dual roles in the pilot.
In year two, 2000-2001, a second I-Plan Regents Fellow was hired. A support member of the team was added who was critical in the management of the program. Six members of the year-one cohort of I-Planners/review panelists were invited to become coaches for the project to build capacity via the "train the trainer" model. The numbers grew to approximately 100 I-Planners and 45 review panelists. In addition, 10 mini-grants of up to $10,000 were awarded by the Rhode Island Department of Education to districts or partnerships to recruit I-Planners. The grants also funded training in job-embedded professional development activities -- mentoring, collegial study groups, action research, and cognitive coaching -- that had been identified as areas of interest by I-Planners.
Since the third year of the pilot program, 2001-2002, the I-Plan Fellows have added to the strong base of I-Planners, review panelists, coaches, and local point people who support the process at the district level. The I-Plan Fellows are also combining efforts with a Mentor Fellow to fully integrate the I-Plan with district mentoring programs for new teachers.
The I-Plan has also gained the support of union leaders in both American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) districts. Local union affiliates are espousing the I-Plan model and incorporating contract language around this model of PD, particularly those districts that have an internal professional development academy or institute that is jointly sponsored by the district and the union. Some districts are moving to parallel teacher evaluation systems so that an educator's I-Plan could serve as part of the professional development plan for evaluation.
The design process started with the I-Plan design team -- a group of teachers, administrators, union leaders, university education professors, and state Department of Education personnel -- who came together to study re-certification programs in other states and propose a unique program for Rhode Island. Based on the recommendations of this team, Ann Abeille, from the education resource program Learning Innovations, introduced a preliminary model of the I-Plan, which was implemented and refined by Becky Wright, a Rhode Island Department of Education specialist assigned to the project, and Lucille Andolfo, the original I-Plan Regents Fellow. Initial feedback from I-Planners and reviewers led them to abbreviate and refine the tools for writing a plan. By the end of Year One, instead of being faced with an 11-page document to fill out, I-Planners were given a 3-page document with supporting tools.
However, this document -- the I-Plan itself -- was only one piece of the puzzle. Next, Andolfo and Wright had to design the process for review of the plans. They attended a session of the state's Writing Assessment scoring process and adopted a number of techniques from this process: the use of multiple readers to evaluate each product, anchor papers to train for inter-reader reliability, and calibration at the beginning of each review process to ensure fair evaluation. Essential to the review process was the I-Plan scoring rubric, which Andolfo and Lepore, a new I-Plan Regents Fellow, were careful to align with the I-Plan proposal form. They adapted the rubric multiple times, based on feedback from I-Plan participants.
In addition to the proposal form and rubric, this team also developed a number of supporting documents and training modules:
Much of the I-Plan team's development work is still in process, as they respond to the feedback they receive from participants in the program. However, in only a few years they have already created a system that works, a growing capacity that points toward sustainability, and a foundation of support and acceptance.
Click "I-Plan Resources" in left navigation menu to see the I-Plan web page provided by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and to view some of the documents used by I-Planners.