Professional Development Initiative for School Leaders
Q & A
Q 1: Who is required to develop and implement Professional Growth Plans?
A 1: All active administrators whose positions require possession of any of the following certificates:
Q 2: Why are school business officials exempted from the requirement?
A 2: School business officials are exempted because the primary focus of the initiative is on developing and enhancing knowledge and skill dimensions of instructional leadership that positively impact teaching, learning and school improvement. A separate requirement focused on the role and responsibilities of school business officials is under consideration.
Q 3: What is a Professional Growth Plan (PGP)?
A 3: A Professional Growth Plan links school leaders individual professional goals with authentic school and/or district goals and needs. The plan outlines a series of self-motivated activities that the school leader will engage in over time to develop or enhance knowledge and skills that will support their work as instructional leaders. The activities will be aligned to the New Jersey Professional Standards for School Leaders and will focus on improving teaching, learning and student achievement. The plan also outlines the evidence to be assembled that substantiates fulfillment of the plan.
Q 4: How does a Professional Growth Plan (PGP) differ from a PIP?
A 4: The PIP is an annual document that is part of a school leaders annual job performance evaluation based on the leaders job description. The professional growth plan is a multi-year plan (three years for principals and supervisors; three-to five years for superintendents, depending on contract length) that is not a part of a leaders evaluation but rather an individual plan of standards-based study and professional learning that links individually identified interests with authentic school/district needs.
Q 5: What does "standards-based" mean in this context?
A 5: New Jersey has adopted the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards. These standards are now called New Jersey Professional Standards for School Leaders and outline what school leaders must know and be able to do in order to positively impact teaching, learning and school improvement efforts. The goals and activities in each administrators Professional Growth Plan (PGP) must align with one or more of the New Jersey Professional Standards for School Leaders.
Q 6: When is the first Professional Growth Plan (PGP) due?
A 6: The Commissioner has provided for a developmental year (school year 2004-2005) during which school leaders will learn about and begin developing their first professional growth plan. Plans for all school leaders must be filed with the school district (or, for superintendents, with NJASA) and ready to implement not later than July 1, 2005. For those school leaders with 3 year employment contracts, the completion of the first Professional Growth Plan will be due by July 1, 2008. For those school leaders with a 5 year employment contract the first Professional Growth Plan will be due by July 1, 2010.
Q 7: What is the purpose of a developmental year?
A 7: The first year of the initiative (the 2004-2005 school year) is a developmental year in which training, resources and preparation for implementation are provided to stakeholders. The developmental year provides an opportunity for those involved in the initiative to provide input and feedback to help refine implementation of the initiative. This is an opportunity to help the department identify any problems with implementation that might result in recommendations for revisions to the code. It is also a period in which the department and school leaders work together to ensure successful implementation.
Q 8: What are the responsibilities of school leaders during the developmental year?
A 8: School leaders should attend the four state technical assistance sessions or should attend district turn-key meetings held for the purpose of sharing support information. In addition, principals and supervisors will begin drafting their first professional growth plan. This includes conferring with a chief school administrator (or designee), developing a written draft that outlines goals, activities and evidence of plan fulfillment, meeting with a self-selected peer review committee to review the draft plan, offer modifications and suggestions as needed and recommend implementation. For superintendents, this includes developing a draft plan aligned with district goals and meeting with a peer review committee that will provide recommendations about implementation.
Q 9: Why are the professional associations (NJASA and NJPSA) assuming such a major role in implementing this requirement?
A 9: The new regulations on professional learning for school leaders require a high level of commitment and a deep understanding of the professional development process if it is to be implemented in a manner consistent with its intention. In order to be effective in improving the culture of school leadership in New Jersey, it is important that the new requirement not be simply a mandate with minimal compliance levels. The involvement of the associations in the development and implementation of the new code was designed to cultivate that commitment and understanding. The associations have expressed belief that the code can be used as an opportunity to genuinely enhance each school leaders skills and improve each school through the types of collaborative, job-embedded , continuous professional learning encouraged by the new regulations.
Q 10: With whom are professional growth plans filed?
A 10: Principals, supervisors and assistant superintendents file their professional growth plans with the chief school administrator. Superintendents file their plan with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA).
Q 11: What is the timeframe for plan fulfillment?
A 11: Principals and supervisors implement their professional growth plans over three years. Superintendents and assistant superintendents implement their professional growth plans over three to five years depending on contract length.
Q 12: What happens if a school leader changes positions or moves to a new district?
Q 13: Must an amended professional growth plan be submitted for peer review?
A 13: Yes. A school leader filing an amended professional growth plan must submit the revised plan to his or her peer review committee to assure alignment with the professional standards for school leaders. Statements of assurance do not need to undergo peer review.
Q 14: Who must verify changes in professional growth plans?
A 14: Statements of assurance and amended professional growth plans for principals and supervisors changing assignments or districts must be signed by and filed with the new chief school administrator (or designee), if applicable, or with the current chief school administrator (or designee). Statements of Assurance and amended professional growth plans for superintendents who change assignments or districts must be signed by and filed with NJASA.
Q 15: Who should be on a peer review committee?
A 15: School leaders self-select their peer review committees based on their assessment of who can best support their development and implementation of a high quality professional growth plan. Principals and supervisors will submit their plans to a self-selected peer review committee comprised of at least three or more school administrators. The chief school administrator will select a peer review committee consisting of at least three or more chief school administrators. The New Jersey Association of School Administrators will coordinate the peer review process for superintendents. Peer review committee members are not limited to colleagues who hold the same job title and may include others with specific expertise in the area(s) addressed by their plan.
Q 16: How many people should make up a peer review committee?
A 16: In order to provide meaningful input to the planning process, the committee includes at least three members in addition to the school leader whose plan is being reviewed. (See question 15 above.) Committee members may include those in or outside the leaders school or district.
Q 17: Who convenes the peer review committee meetings and what takes place?
A 17: The school leader, with a draft professional growth plan ready for review, convenes the meeting, providing copies of the draft plan to the committee at or before the meeting. The role of the peer review committee will be to provide support, review progress in plan implementation, and recommend the certification of the successful completion of the professional growth plan. The school leader submitting the plan serves as team leader in collaborative discussion that focuses on ensuring alignment of the plans goals and activities with the professional standards for school leaders and outlining the evidence that will verify plan fulfillment.
School leaders should convene their peer review committees for implementation updates, additional resources and support, or to modify existing plans as needed.
At the end of the professional growth plan implementation cycle (three years for principals and supervisors; three to five years for superintendents), leaders convene their peer review committees to review the evidence of plan fulfillment. The peer review committee is responsible to ensure that the evidence aligns with the goals and activities outlined in the plan and reflects the professional standards for school leaders.
Q 18: Must peer review committees meet in person?
A 18 It is recommended that the initial meeting during which a draft plan is reviewed for implementation be conducted in person. However, meetings may be conducted electronically by email or phone. The culminating meeting to certify the evidence of plan fulfillment should, if possible, also take place in person and may be combined with a review of the draft plan for the next cycle.
Q 19: How should principals and supervisors select a peer review committee?
A 19: Professional collaboration with colleagues can be among the most meaningful and rewarding aspects of a school leaders work. The point of the peer review committee is to provide professional support to the school leader developing, implementing and fulfilling a professional growth plan. Your peer review committee should be made up of people with whom you want to work and who you see as supporting your professional and personal growth. They are your sounding board to help you get the most benefit from your plan and to help you translate your own learning into benefits for the students and teachers in your school and district. Select colleagues who will challenge your thinking and help you examine your assumptions while supporting your efforts.
Q 20: What if I cannot assemble a peer review committee?
A 20: Contact your professional association for assistance.
Q 21: Can I serve on a peer review committee for a colleague who is part of my own committee?
A 21: Yes. There is no restriction on your service on peer review committees. The requirement for peer review committee membership is that you provide challenge and support to the school leader professional growth planning process to ensure that plans are aligned with the professional standards for school leaders, are meaningful and rigorous, and that evidence of plan fulfillment aligns with the goals and activities outlined in the plan.
Q 22: As the lead person of a charter school I am the sole administrator. Who should be on my peer review committee?
A 22: You may wish to seek out other charter school directors or administrators in nearby schools. Depending on the focus of your PGP you may want to add others who can support your professional growth in an identified area.
Q 23: What if I dont have easy access to colleagues with whom I am comfortable sharing my strengths and weaknesses?
A 23: Building a community of online peer review participants may be a good option. Contact your association.
Q 24: What constitutes evidence of plan fulfillment?
A 24: The professional growth plan will include the evidence that will be presented to verify fulfillment of the plan. The plan for the evidence to be presented as well as the actual artifacts that verify plan fulfillment will be reviewed and recommended by the peer review committee. The regulations stipulate a required narrative account of the plan fulfillment process as well as documentation of activities in which the school leader participated (i.e., transcripts of coursework or training, evidence of participation in job-embedded learning opportunities such as action research or study groups, etc.) and/or artifacts the school leader developed (i.e., memos, policy documents, handbooks, etc.) as part of fulfilling the professional growth plan.
Q 25: How is plan fulfillment monitored?
A 25: Compliance with this state regulation will be monitored by the NJ Department of Education through the annual district evaluation process. Principals and superintendent compliance will be certified by the chief school administrator and reported on the QAAR. Superintendent compliance will be reported to their district boards of education by the New Jersey Association for School Administrators.
Q 26: What happens if a school leader does not file or fulfill a professional growth plan?
A 26: The onus for developing and fulfilling the plan is on the individual school leader. Those who do not file or fulfill plans are responsible to their designated supervisors who should apply progressive supervision and appropriate supervisory judgment.
Q 27: Why are all school leaders required to participate in this initiative? Is there an assumption that school leaders are not doing a good job?
A 27: Absolutely not. This is a design for professional learning that is research-based to get the outcomes for teaching, learning and school improvement. Leaders model the behavior they expect of those they lead. The changing conditions of school leadership and the greater expectations and accountability for student performance require leaders to learn continuously. School improvement research points to those areas where school leaders can positively impact student learning. Ongoing professional learning is a clear expectation for all individuals who work in schools.
Q 28: If our district has been designated as a Blue Ribbon School and Star School we have achieved a high level of excellence. Can our school leaders be excused from the requirement?
A 28: No. All school leaders must participate in the initiative. The spirit of the initiative is to provide an environment in every school that encourages continuous professional growth for all. When one performs at high levels you are in the position to lead and advance the profession.
Q 29: Do supervisors who teach follow this initiative?
A 29: Whether the supervisor participates in the professional development initiative for teachers or for school leaders depends on which certificate the staff member is contracted under for their work in the district.
Q 30: Are charter school and private school leaders and administrators working in state agencies included in the requirement?
A 30: If one of the state certifications listed in question #1 is required for their positions, then they are required to participate in the professional development initiative.
Logistics of Plan Validation
Q 31: Who will validate plans for assistant superintendents?
A 31: Assistant superintendents will file and fulfill their plans with their supervisor. Only superintendents file their plan with NJASA.
Q 32: How will a superintendent validate the plans of administrators working in the district?
A 32: The superintendent will certify plan implementation/completion for district administrators on the annual QAAR.
Q 33: How will NJASA validate plans for superintendents?
A 33: NJASA will provide documentation of certification of an administrators plan completion to the school administrator and his/her board of education.
Q 34: Can the superintendent of a large district designate someone else to meet with and validate plans for administrators in the district?
A 34: Yes, the superintendent can appoint a designee to participate in the goal setting process and the review of plans.
Q 35: Can chief school administrators who are not members of NJASA get support and how will their plans be validated?
A 35: All superintendents, regardless of association membership, will have plan completion certified by NJASA.
PGP and Goals
Q 36: What is the difference between a school improvement plan and a personal growth plan?
A 36: The purpose of the PGP is to link personal/individual and school/district needs while a school improvement plan focuses on school needs and school improvement.
Q 37: Should the peer review committee be put together before going to the superintendent?
A 37: This decision is up to the individual administrator creating a PGP. Principals and supervisors will develop professional development goals in conjunction with the chief school administrator. After identifying goals with the chief school administrator, principals and supervisors will submit their plans to a self-selected peer review committee.
Q 38: If teachers and school leaders have PD plans will there still be a need for a district PD plan?
A 38: Yes.
Q 39: Can the PGP be a project-based plan such as the development of an operational manual or job procedures?
A 39: This a local decision. There is nothing in the regulations to prohibit project-based plans.
Q 40: Why werent prescriptive expectations set for school leaders?
A 40: The initiative is based on the NJ Professional Standards for School Leaders and is meant to provide maximum freedom for administrators to exercise professional judgment within the framework provided by the regulations. A prescriptive approach would contravene the process of reflection so essential to professional growth.
Q 41: Is 2004-2005 the first year of the first PGP?
A 41: No. 2004-2005 is a developmental year. Year one of the first PGP will be 2005-2006. Plans are to be ready to begin implementation by September 2005.
Q 42: Will there be any coordination with institutions of higher learning who prepare entry level school leaders?
A 42: Yes. The professional standards provide a platform for an array of initiatives to strengthen school leaders. This includes requiring preparation programs to align their offerings with the standards and to have that alignment audited by national experts in the standards-based preparation of school leaders.