Association of Adult Literacy Professional Developers (AALPD)

Recommended Policies to Support Professional Development



Recommended Policies by Category



1.                   Involvement in Decision Making:  Smith, et al (2003) found that decision making in the program and collegiality with other teachers were important factors in how much teachers changed their thinking and acting after participating in professional development. 

a.       All teachers should have access to at least one hour a week of sharing time with either colleagues or a coordinator who supports their teaching.

b.      At least monthly mechanisms (staff meetings, meetings with director) should be available for teachers to voice their input/decision making within the program.


2.                   Paid Professional Development Release Time:  Each program should be funded such that all practitioners receive a minimum of 2.5% of their annual working time as paid professional development.  Paid professional development includes any professional learning activity that advances practitioners towards achieving the goals outlined in their professional development plans.


3.                   Expectations for Participation in Professional Development:  Every state should expect that all practitioners, no matter how experienced, will continue professional learning throughout their careers.


4.                   Professional Development Plans:  Each program should be funded a minimum of 0.5% (up to 8 hours) of its annual staff hours to support teachers in developing an annual professional development plan that begins with a practitioner needs assessment and dovetails with its program improvement process.  All teachers should have PD plans, and programs should be monitored to see that these are real and meaningful to teachers and to the program.


5.                   Quality of Professional Development:  Full-time facilitators of professional development should complete an annual plan for organizing and delivering professional development, based on discussions with and needs assessments of practitioners and adult learners.  States should also have an on-going formative evaluation system for gauging how well the PD system is reaching and serving all adult basic education practitioners and program directors.



6.                   Data Collection Regarding Teacher Characteristics:  In addition to using the professional development plans of practitioners to make decisions about professional development offerings, states should collect data each year about the characteristics of their teachers that would enable them to determine a schedule of professional development that would reach the largest number of practitioners with appropriate professional development opportunities.




1.                   Orientation for New Teachers:  All new teachers should have an orientation to teaching in the field of adult basic education within at least the first six months of their teaching.


2.                   Balance between State-Driven and Teacher-Driven Professional Development:   Every state literacy resource center or professional development system/agency and every program should use the professional development  plans of the practitioners in their state or program and/or use needs assessments to plan professional development activities relevant to and driven by teachersí and studentsí needs.  The needs for professional development as defined by practitioners and adult learners, as well as the needs for program improvement, should be evenly balanced with the needs of the state ABE regulating agency/ies.


3.                   Teachersí Involvement in the Field of Adult Education:  All practitioners should be funded for at least 1% of their annual working time to participate in activities as a member of the field, including:


a.       Providing professional development to other teachers inside or outside of the program,

b.      Working towards addressing studentsí needs (transportation, child care, health services, job assistance, etc.) that may prevent students from participating in the program,

c.       Building community partnerships (with the health care system, K-12 system, libraries, local businesses, career centers, etc.) to improve services to adult learners, and

d.      Informing state adult education policies and state initiatives.


4.                   Participation in Program Improvement:  Each program should be funded a minimum of 2% of its annual staff hours for teachers to participate and take leadership in program improvement (such as designing a new curriculum (not just lesson planning), recruiting, designing a new student orientation, etc.).



1.                   Access to Professional Development Activities:  The state literacy resource centers or statewide professional development agency should have the mandate and funding to ensure that every practitioner has access to professional development, throughout the year, both inside and outside of his/her program, and every practitioner has access to a variety of types of professional development (conferences, workshops, study circles, courses, teacher research, and other forms of more sustained PD, etc.) with a variety of times and locations, including on-line options.




1.                   Tuition Reimbursement:  Programs should be funded to provide tuition reimbursement at the equivalent of one college course per semester to teachers who have higher education attainment as a part of their professional development plans.




1.                   Performance Evaluation and Professional Improvement:  Programs should conduct performance evaluations of practitioners, who should show evidence of achievement, including: application of learning and reflection or acquisition of new skills and knowledge, as described in the goals of their professional development plans.


Delivery Structure:

1.                   Professional Development System:  Each state should have a funded state literacy resource center or other agency that provides direct professional development to practitioners and technical assistance to help programs organize in-house professional development.  A person should be designated in each program  and paid to be the coordinator of program and professional development.


Working Conditions:

1.                   In addition to paid professional development release time, programs should have sufficient resources to provide working conditions that will allow teachers to stay in the field, find the work satisfying, and grow professionally, including:

a.       Adequate teacher salaries

b.      Benefits for all teachers (including part-time)

c.       Access to full-time employment

d.      Paid prep time for all teachers (including part-time)

e.       Paid access for all teachers to at least one hour a week of professional sharing time with other colleagues or a coordinator who supports their teaching, and

f.        At least monthly mechanisms for voicing their ideas and participating in decisions about the program.


Adult Learners:

1.                   Adult Learner Voice in Professional Development:  The state professional development agency and each individual program should have dedicated funding to ensure that the adult learner voice is included in developing professional development policies and in delivering professional development at the local program, state, and federal levels.


2.                   Professional Development for Learner Leaders Who Work in the Field:  Current or former students who are tutors, administrators, program coordinators, and counselors should be afforded access to professional development offered by state professional development and technical assistance agencies, given additional PD to meet their needs if necessary, and/or granted internships to work and learn within the program.