The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens the doors for states and school districts to provide teachers with a more comprehensive, aligned system of supports throughout their careers. It sets a new standard for investments in professional learning and contemplates the critical role that states can play in opening doors to higher quality and more relevant continuing education. And in doing so, ESSA establishes opportunities for innovation and improvement that have the power to transform professional development.

And yet, our research shows that professional learning has a long way to go to meet these new standards.

In Bridging the Gap, the Frontline Research & Learning Institute brings you the first retrospective examination of professional development through the lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Based on data from a sample of U.S. schools over the last five years, findings suggest that the clear majority of professional development in the U.S. falls woefully short of the new federal definition.

To help bridge the gap between current practice and high quality professional development, the Institute team, in partnership with Whiteboard Advisors, has established a research framework and standardized metrics that any state or district leader can use to measure their own alignment—and chart a course for improvement.

Bridging the Gap: Parts 2, 3 and 4 explore how professional development offered by school districts compares to the ESSA definition of effective professional development, and identifies exemplary practices from which to learn and emulate.

ESSA Supporting Data to bridge the gap

Data-driven & Classroom-focused

Bridging the Gap | Part 4 : Data-driven & Classroom-focused


Collaborative & Job-embedded

Bridging the Gap | Part 3 : Collaborative & Job-embedded


Sustained & Intensive

Bridging the Gap | Part 2 : Sustained & Intensive


Paving the Pathway from Current Practice to Exemplary Professional Learning

Bridging the Gap | Part 1 : Paving the Pathway from Current Practice to Exemplary Professional Learning


Re-Develop Professional Development


Time to Re-Develop Professional Development

Dr. Steven Ross writes from the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, highlighting a recent report from the Frontline Research & Learning Institute that examines the state of professional learning today.

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