Dear FHUSD Families and Friends,
A critical component in the services the district provides for our students is the ongoing professional development of our staff and how that translates into improving the school climate and educational outcomes. As part of our contract with our property and liability insurance provider, all employees receive required annual training in workplace safety practices, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act policies, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policies, and child abuse reporting requirements. Individual employee groups also receive targeted training relevant to their job categories. Bus drivers are required to take annual training in traffic laws and safety requirements and classroom aides receive training in special education policies and district staff managing the federal National School Lunch Program participate in continuous workshops.
Certified staff also participate in professional development to enhance their skills as educators. For this type of professional development to have meaningful impact it should be directed towards improving student learning, have a long-term focus, empower peer collaboration, and involve specific feedback for teachers. A particular professional development initiative that meets all of these factors is Instructional Practices Inventory or IPI. FHUSD teachers have been working with IPI since 2015. IPI is defined as a “teacher-led process for collecting and collaboratively studying student engagement.” (
). Since 2015, over forty teachers from all three FHUSD schools have been trained in the IPI model as data collectors. Each school now has an experienced team of teachers to implement the process. A core set of teachers visits peer classrooms on a quarterly basis for brief periods and documents observational data about student engagement. Data is collected on the depth of students’ cognitive engagement in the classroom and recorded on a standardized form. School-wide results are then examined in a whole-school staff meeting that occurs on a Wednesday early release day. The process is not intended to be part of an individual teacher's evaluation but rather a school-wide profile of the quality of student engagement in their learning. Since the peer observations occur several times throughout the year and we are now in the fourth year of doing this, each school has constructed a database built on baseline data and multiple years of trend data.
IPI is a professional development initiative that has become a fully integrated part of the learning process in FHUSD. Principals and teachers have found great value in this method and will continue to use this model to improve learning outcomes for our students. IPI is one of the important elements in our quest to “achieve and celebrate educational excellence.”
Robert Allen, Ed.D.