Maximize Your Curriculum ROI

Jessica Cameron June 17, 2024

Maximizing Your Curriculum ROI With High-Quality Professional Learning

Jessica Cameron

BetterLesson Chief Revenue Officer

Investing in High-Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM) is a significant decision for any school district. While many curriculum implementation plans include some form of Professional Learning (PL) for the educators, our work with districts makes it clear that not all PL is created equal. We also know that Professional Development Days, while informative, are not the best (or only!) way to help adult learners, both teachers and leaders, understand the new curriculum in a way that translates its complexities into pedagogical strategies for the classroom and across a building and district. 

It takes considerable time, financial resources, and effort to enable educators in the use of HQIM to create an excellent classroom experience for students that drives the learning outcomes that we are all hoping to achieve. This is widely considered one of the best ways for schools to enhance student learning and achievement. We also know that the effectiveness of this investment hinges on one critical element: are the educators adequately prepared to teach these materials in a way that will influence success? That’s why I always recommend High-Quality Professional Learning (HQPL) as the sustaining solution to ensure that the curriculum is properly implemented during initial rollout—and beyond.

What is High-Quality Professional Learning?

High-Quality Professional Learning (HQPL) is typically defined as being specific, collaborative, and sustained. Unlike the “one-and-done” approach of the traditional PD Day, HQPL is ongoing, providing opportunities for targeted learning and practice throughout the school year. It’s also tailored to meet the diverse needs of all educators, including district leadership, school and instructional leadership, classroom educators, and paraprofessionals to ensure that Professional Learning (PL) experiences are relevant and impactful. After all, we differentiate for our students. Why shouldn’t we do the same for our educators? 

In today’s rapidly evolving educational landscape, clinging to the traditional PD Day model is not just outdated—it’s a disservice to our educators and, ultimately, our students. The evidence is clear: one-off professional development sessions fail to provide the sustained, personalized support necessary for educators to effectively implement HQIM. Districts that continue to rely solely on these antiquated methods are going to find themselves increasingly outpaced by those who have embraced more dynamic, ongoing, data-driven approaches to professional learning.

Leading districts have already recognized that moving beyond the traditional PD Day is essential for retaining top educator talent and achieving significant educational outcomes. These forward-thinking districts are investing in HQPL that is continuous, tailored, measurable, and collaborative, ensuring that all educators are equipped with the knowledge and skills they (and their students) need to succeed. Districts that do not adopt these advanced HQPL models run the risk of not getting the most out of their HQIM investment, with educators feeling unsupported and struggling to translate curriculum into effective classroom practice. This stagnation not only affects teacher retention but also hinders student achievement. Bottom line: it is imperative for districts to evolve their professional learning strategies to stay ahead of the curve.

The Future of Professional Learning

By aligning target outcomes across educators, we are able to work with our partners to create a unified focus on student achievement. Effective learning experiences foster a common language and understanding of what success looks like in the classroom, with clearly defined indicators of progress.

As more districts embrace the philosophy of continuous improvement through High-Quality Professional Learning, we will see a greater, measurable impact on both teacher (and leader) retention and student achievement. Educators who feel supported and equipped to meet the diverse needs of their students are more likely to remain in their positions, reducing turnover and fostering a stable, experienced workforce.

Investing in HQPL along with your curriculum is not only an investment in your educators, but in the future success of your students. By providing educators with the tools, strategies, and ongoing support they need, we ensure that every dollar spent on curriculum is maximized, leading to the enhanced educational outcomes that we are always striving for in our schools.