Washington Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (WA-STEM)

When school districts face new student learning standards, a new teacher evaluation process, new rubrics that define dimensions of effective instruction, and new requirements for teachers to collect student growth data, the need for building capacity and coherence becomes critical for successful learning and adapting.  Two school districts in Western Washington developed their internal capacity for change, using teacher leaders and school-based professional learning communities, to guide teachers through systematic inquiry into their own practice.  This project, funded by the WA STEM Center, worked to improve classroom teaching and learning through a job-embedded professional growth model for teachers centered on clearly defined elements of effective instruction.  Specifically, the districts adopted the “Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning” (5D) framework that helped administrators and teachers develop a shared language and vision for high quality instruction (Center for Educational Leadership, 2014).  Teachers’ growth in these five dimensions was supported through a concurrent and complementary processes:  a state-mandated “Teacher and Principal Evaluation Process” (TPEP), and a building-based “Cycle of Inquiry” (COI) process.  These processes were carefully scaffolded and supported by trained Teachers Leaders (TLs) and school-based Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).