Top Tech Site Details Teacher Training

A leading website that offers independent coverage and research of educational technology includes an in-depth look at the Long Beach Unified School District’s efforts to create customized professional development for teachers.

An article titled “The Long (Beach) Road to Perfect PD” details how the school district has begun using a $5 million “iPD” grant from the Gates Foundation.

“What if schools could design their own solutions, and open them up to companies who were ready for the challenge? That’s the challenge Long Beach Unified took on,” wrote EdSurge’s Christina Quattrocchi, a former teacher. “Ranked as one of the most promising school systems in the world, the district partners with teacher training programs at nearby universities to create a pipeline of potential teaching candidates trained in what others call ‘The Long Beach Way.’ Not only do teachers get support from coaches deployed throughout the district, but they also have their own professional development resource center they can physically visit to get help from highly regarded peers.”

The process of developing a customized professional development program began with the school district sending a 15-question survey to more than 4,000 certificated educators in January 2013. Nearly 600 teachers responded with insights on their current experiences and potential areas for growth, the article states.

Based on those results, more than 150 teachers spent a full day designing exactly what the new system would do. They identified how they might behave in an ideal system where everyone got the training and support they needed.

“The teachers just got to dream; What would the perfect professional development system look like for you?” LBUSD Program Administrator Nader Twal told EdSurge.

The system they designed evaluates teachers’ needs based on students’ academic performance data, teachers’ previous professional development courses, self evaluations and administrative feedback. Then the system helps the teacher create a personal learning plan and offers a list of online and offline learning opportunities. The final step in the system gives teachers feedback on their growth by pulling future student performance data, and through coaching feedback and observations.

The article goes on to detail the evolution of the technological infrastructure that will support these efforts. LBUSD is rolling out a pilot of the system with about 100 educators, and systemwide adoption is planned for the 2016-17 school year.

Read the full article at edsurge.com. Search for “The Long Beach Road.”

Millikan High School teacher Ashleigh Ferguson is one of many teachers helping to shape LBUSD’s customized professional development system.

"Collaboration with teacher peers is invaluable,” Ferguson said. “I desire to be the best teacher I can be and need feedback and ideas from other professionals to make this happen. I believe iPD will provide a space for structured, collaborative opportunities within our district. LBUSD is highly populated with talented teacher leaders with brilliance to share. Working with the initial design of iPD has given me hope that there will be a common space to learn from these leaders on a consistent basis."