System Supports

**The Aspen Institute. (2018). Developing a professional learning system for adults in service of student learning. Retrieved from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/developing-professional-learning-system/

Using an equity lens, this paper contends that schools should prioritize professional learning for adults in order to accelerate improvement and cultivate learning for students. Often, districts and schools focus primarily on classroom-level instruction, but the authors argue that deeply interconnected and comprehensive structures focused on adult learning may be more effective in addressing system-wide improvement. Schools should operate as organizations that facilitate learning for students and adults alike through the development of a professional learning system. The prioritization of professional learning includes both central office leaders and highly skilled teachers who develop cohesive and accelerated improvement through attention to governance, data and accountability, human capital, and content and pedagogical strategies. The Aspen framework highlights the multiple parts that contribute to a coordinated set of structures in service of advancing equity.

Perry, R., Reade, F., Heredia, A., & Finkelstein, N. (2017). Three structures in the Garden Grove Unified School District that support implementation of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Retrieved from https://www.wested.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/resource-garden-grove-ccss-math-mic8.pdf

WestEd performed an analysis of 2015 and 2016 California Assessment for Student Performance and Progress data for ten districts in the Math in Common network and found that many schools in Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) significantly outperformed their predicted scores for 2016. To learn more about the practices underlying these results, researchers conducted interviews and examined artifacts to understand Garden Grove’s districtwide efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. The investigation revealed that several complex, interlocking factors enable GGUSD to support student success. This report details three structures in GGUSD that staff referenced as central to their students’ success in mathematics: a curriculum and pacing guide, teachers on special assignment, and a professional learning system.

Perry, R., & Reade, F. (2018). Developing principals’ instructional leadership: Systems of support in two Math in Common districts. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Retrieved from https://www.wested.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/resource-developing-principals-instructional-leadership-math-in-common.pdf

This case study examines how Santa Ana and Long Beach Unified School Districts have worked to strengthen principals’ instructional leadership capacity in mathematics. After providing a brief history and summary of the districts’ strategies, the authors identify several common elements that seem to contribute to improved results. First, both districts have standing, regular times set aside for their principals to engage with mathematics content and instruction. Their professional development encourages them to treat mistakes as learning opportunities and fosters collaboration across roles, buildings, and/or sites. The principals learn alongside teachers or other stakeholders, but the focus remains on classroom instruction to increase principals’ exposure to the standards and what teaching them well looks like. Observation tools clearly incorporate the districts’ goals and vision for high quality mathematics instruction, and principals observe teachers often as part of their professional development. The authors conclude that questions remain about whether improving principals’ content knowledge also improves their instructional leadership capacity, and they recommend that both districts continue to gather evidence and monitor results.

**This document is considered a priority reading.