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Coherence in Professional Learning

**Forman, M. L., Stosich, E. L., & Bocala, C. (2021). The internal coherence framework: Creating the conditions for continuous improvement in schools (ch. 1, Why internal coherence?, pp. 1–15). Harvard Education Press. Available on Dropbox.

This book offers a framework for school and district leaders to build greater coherence in their systems. In this first chapter, the authors define internal coherence as “the collective capability of the adults in an educational system to connect and align resources to carry out an improvement strategy” that provides students with richer educational opportunities. They also lay out the central framework of the book, which is informed by research in leadership for learning, organizational improvement, and instructional efficacy. The four core principles of the book are (1) internal coherence should be centered around instruction, (2) system improvement is an issue of learning, not implementation, (3) adults’ sense of mastery can change their beliefs and behaviors, and (4) clinical practices and tools make research actionable.

**The Aspen Institute for Education & Society Program. (2018). Developing a professional learning system for adults in service of student learning. Available at

One component of internal coherence in a school or district is having a professional learning system that guides the supports educators receive. This article outlines the elements of a strong professional learning system and emphasizes the importance of coordination across multiple areas of a school district, such as governance, accountability, and human resources. The framework considers school and district culture, curriculum and assessments, accountable leaders, and research-based practices to all contribute to the conditions required for adults to have powerful learning experiences. This piece will be especially useful during Day 1, where we will learn about the professional learning system Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) is developing.

ERS. (2022, August 16). Enabling transformational change through a "do now, build toward" approach. Available at

The work of schools and districts continues to be difficult as the world navigates pandemic recovery. For a district like SCUSD, limits on what the district can to ask of their educators make their challenges seem insurmountable at times. In such situations, the “do now, build toward” approach described in this article offers a way of breaking down problems into smaller, actionable steps. We have provided this reading as a lens to use as we consider the limits and opportunities SCUSD has to improve teaching and learning throughout their system.

Firestone, W. A., Mangin, M. M., Martinez, M. C., & Polovsky, T. (2005). Leading coherent professional development: A comparison of three districts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41(3), 413–448.

The three excerpts we selected from this article describe the experiences of three urban school districts in similar demographic and policy contexts that take different approaches to offering professional development to their educators. The authors’ findings suggest that district offices can influence teaching through professional development and that coherence within the professional development offered (or lack thereof) has a significant effect on the efficacy of the professional development. In particular, these three examples highlight differences in district organizational capacity and how such differences can affect coordination and planning of professional development.

For the purposes of our meeting, please review the excerpts we selected on Dropbox. The full article can be found at

**This document is a priority reading.