Teacher professional development survey results: School district policies and practices highlighted

by Troy Bryant

Conducted by HR Services in March 2016, the survey covers scheduling practices, required days, compensation, and use of instructional waivers for teacher professional development.

Among 259 responding Texas school districts, slightly more than two-thirds (69 percent or 179 districts) assign professional development planning to their curriculum and instruction department. The superintendent’s office accounts for about one-quarter of responses (24 percent or 62 responses). Human Resources is rarely responsible for professional development (3 percent or seven responses), according to the survey.


Teacher Professional Development Days

With the change in the education code to minutes of instruction (HB 2610), questions regarding the number of days for professional development were added this year. For 2016‒17, nearly half (48 percent) of districts responding plan to use 10 or more days for professional development. In addition, most districts (68 percent) will provide more professional development days for teachers as a result of the change in law.

Scheduling Professional Development

According to the survey, professional development is most often scheduled during the summer (61 percent). Another 14 percent of respondents schedule it for both Saturdays and during the summer. Other districts schedule it during the school year, on early release days, or at other times when students are not in attendance.  
In addition, districts were asked about compensating teachers for attending professional development on days outside the normal contract term. Of those districts that offer compensation (48 percent), two-thirds provide comp days during the school year. Most other respondents pay a standard rate to teachers.

Instructional Waivers and Early Release Days

Finally, the survey asked districts about instructional waivers and early release days for professional development. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) allows districts to request up to three waiver days for professional development in lieu of student instruction. TEA also allows districts to request up to six early release days for professional development or other locally determined need.
Sixty-four percent of responding districts request instructional waivers. Of these districts, nearly all (90 percent) request three waiver days. Fewer districts (60 percent) request early release days and nearly half of these districts (46 percent) request the maximum six days.
TASB HR Services surveyed more than 900 public school member districts in March 2016. For the summary findings, 259 districts across all TEA-defined enrollment groupings participated in the survey. While the results of responses collected by March 2016 are reported here, HR Services member districts who have yet to participate can do so by visiting DataCentral and accessing the HR Data page. Member districts can take part in all of our surveys covering HR policies and procedures in school districts. Results are available upon completion of the survey.