California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II


Students who attend schools where the adults are excited about learning receive invaluable modeling about the importance of education. Professional Learning Community (PLC) members not only convey the excitement of continually improving their professional skills, but they also serve as a catalyst for schoolwide improvement by continually sharing best practices. In every meeting, PLC members analyze results to determine what factors led to improvement in student learning. Through honest discussions and reflective practice, they learn from mistakes and share successes, thus providing continuous professional development throughout the year.

In the Spotlight

Frank Wright Middle School, Imperial Unified School District, is a 2007 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage Model School
The staff members at Frank Wright Middle School have instituted many organizational structures and processes to ensure that their students have the best education possible. Some of the organizational strategies include the following:

  1. The school has created a culture of common vision and shared decision-making.
  2. Each team of teachers has a common prep time to facilitate planning, communication, and coordination.
  3. Teams collaborate and use assessment data to develop intervention programs.
  4. Coaching (both formal and informal) is a school-wide norm.
  5. The school schedules interventions daily both during and after school.
  6. The leadership team members act as instructional coaches for the other members of the staff.
  7. A distributed leadership team meets two times per month, trains one day per month, and coaches other staff members as needed.
  8. Grades are updated in student planners every two weeks.


Participating in continuous, successful professional development begins with a professional learning plan (PLP). The PLP provides a coherent approach so that everyone has a map showing his or her path toward “continuous improvement in instruction and student achievement”--the focus of the Recommendation on professional learning. Creation of the professional learning plan allows the members of the learning community to prioritize what needs to be done and to show how they will implement the plan. For the PLP to be effective, it must reflect the best thinking of the entire staff.

Providing educators with quality on-going professional development experiences translates into increased student achievement. School board, county, and district leaders must support, encourage, and provide continuous, quality professional development opportunities for all educators. High-performing schools and districts place a high priority on ensuring that school professionals are part of a community that is committed to learning. As professionals, school and district staff members continue to learn together about how to improve teaching and learning.

Educators who participate in good professional learning that is reflective helps all members of the school community examine their practice in light of outcomes and student learning. Effective middle schools place a high priority on developing professional learning communities that support teachers and provide them with the particular skills they need to be successful.

Professional Learning for Paraprofessionals and Other Classified Staff

Back to Top