San Francisco Unified School District,
San Francisco, CA
The practice: Professional development should be connected to a comprehensive change process focused on improving student learning.
San Francisco Unified School District is a large district serving nearly 65,000 diverse students. The former superintendent initiated a comprehensive professional development plan. This plan aimed to increase the achievement of students scoring in the bottom quartile on standardized tests, ensure that all teachers had a broad range of instructional strategies to meet the diverse needs of their students, and expand the effectiveness and quality of professional development.
Multiple components of the plan acknowledged the need for both district and school-based professional development, attention to the growing need to hire novice teachers, and the urgency to improve student achievement. The Professional Development Initiative required each school to analyze student performance data, their curriculum, and instructional processes. After the analysis, teams at each school develop a school-based improvement plan that specifies the professional development necessary to achieve their goals. In addition to school-based plans, each teacher completes a professional development plan that specifies how she or he will continue to learn and contribute to the district's and school's goals.
The district provides eight days of professional development throughout the school year. Four days are set aside for schools to use, three are for district-designed programs, and one is dedicated to special education. In addition to the four days available, schools provide additional time through early release days and flexible scheduling.
A broad-based professional development plan focused on increasing student
achievement has helped San Francisco Unified increase student achievement
on the CTBS in literacy and mathematics for three consecutive years.