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Professional Development

February 2013  
Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success
Full Report
Executive Summary
Chart: A Developing Reader’s Journey
Chart: Making it Happen
Read the full recommendation

Professional development should be ongoing, data-driven and linked to practice
One’s professional success and impact depends directly upon training and continuing education. Adults in our early education and care settings, our communities and our schools have the potential to powerfully influence our children’s language and reading development. However, many Massachusetts professionals are not provided with sufficient or effective training opportunities to deliver on this promise. For some, there is no training at all; for others, the professional education lacks sufficient intensity and relevance to gain traction in the practice setting. Our current professional-development paradigm favors periodic training sessions that are relatively brief, one-size-fits-all, and disconnected from daily practice. Moreover, if we are to improve all children’s language and reading skills—raising the bar and transforming the curve—adult participation must extend beyond our K-12 teachers. Professional development focused on children’s language and reading is crucial for all adults who influence children’s language and reading skills.


  • Provide early education and care providers, paraprofessionals and health care professionals with training focused on supporting children’s language and reading development.
  • Develop administrators’ knowledge about children’s language and reading to strengthen instructional leadership.
  • Establish site-level professional development that is data-driven and continuous.

Matching Student Needs with Instruction: A Professional Learning Community at Work
The kindergarten teachers gathered around a table in the staff lounge, each looking through the information book on weather they would share in class the next day through a read-aloud. This was their fifth grade-level team meeting devoted to vocabulary instruction since the fall, when vocabulary was identified as a crucial area of student need across the school. For this particular session, they were focused on making read-alouds more accessible to struggling students, and using the text to teach new words. Along with their teacher guides and materials, each had brought the vocabulary assessment results for a few of their struggling students. They were working to use error patterns from the assessment to inform the way they presented the book on weather in class.


Lead for Literacy Memo: The Importance of Early Literacy Assessment

Lead for Literacy Memo: Comprehensive Assessment: Towards a More Complete Picture of Literacy

Lead for Literacy Memo: Comprehensive Assessment: Making Sense of Test Type and Purpose

Note: Lead for Literacy, an initiative of the Language Diversity and Development Research Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a series of one-page memos informed by “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success.”  The research group is led by Professor Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page.”

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