Our Theory of Change
Learning Forward’s theory of action poses that there is a direct relationship between professional learning and student results. We believe that…
- When professional learning is standards-based, it has greater potential to change what educators know, are able to do, and believe.
- When educators’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions change, they have a broader repertoire of effective strategies to use to adapt their practices to meet performance expectations and student learning needs.
- When educator practice improves, students have a greater likelihood of achieving results.
- When student results improve, the cycle repeats for continuous improvement.
We believe that educators working in schools and systems are best equipped to determine the changes in practice they need to impact student learning, and what knowledge, skills, and dispositions are needed to make those desired changes. They then consider how to apply the standards so they can engage in the learning needed to strengthen their practice. Our work with system leaders, school leaders, coaches, mentors, and teacher leaders empowers them to take charge of their own learning and lead the learning of those they support to drive change.
All of our work is grounded in the Standards for Professional Learning, which define an aspirational, coherent, and attainable vision for an effective and equitable system of professional learning and outline the conditions, elements, and content of professional learning that leads to improved leader, educator, and student outcomes. All of our professional support involves deep learning around the Standards and how to apply them.
Our equity focus
Learning Forward defines equity as the outcome of educator practices that respect and nurture all aspects of student identity, rather than treat them as barriers to learning. Professional learning is a critical lever to achieve equity.
We believe schools achieve their utmost potential when:
- Each student experiences relevant, culturally responsive, rigorous learning and benefits from the collective guidance and care of exceptional teachers and leaders;
- Each educator has access to high-quality professional learning so they can cultivate the strengths and address the needs of each student they serve; and
- Each leader advocates for and builds an education system that dismantles institutional racism and removes other barriers to students’ equitable access to learning.
This vision for equity in schools requires transformation at every level of the education system.
The professional learning support we provide, aligned to the Standards for Professional Learning, disrupts and dismantles causal inequities by:
- Eliminating gaps in access and opportunities by ensuring high-quality teaching, leading, and learning;
- Equipping educators with knowledge and strategies specifically designed to recognize and eliminate bias in the classroom and in their own instructional practices;
- Strengthening self-examination practices and collective responsibility of all educators in the system;
- Providing evidence and data about strategies or designs that support equitable learning;
- Prioritizing coherent and aligned systems that provide academic rigor, high-quality curriculum and culturally relevant instructional materials, educator quality, and resources to support each student; and
- Transforming policies at all levels that shape anti-racist learning systems for adults and students alike.
Effective professional learning removes inequities in students’ access to meaningful learning, ensuring a pathway to success for each student. When all educators engage in high-quality professional learning, all students experience equity and excellence in teaching and learning.