Is Your School Receiving the Best ROI on PD?

Effective and successful business owners and corporate leaders know the importance of wisely monitoring their ROI (that’s their Return On Investment), especially regarding the financial resources invested in ongoing training and professional development (PD). They know the value and importance of continual PD – but only if that PD produces a measurable and positive ROI. Otherwise, it is just busy work and a waste of company resources.

The same holds in the educational world. Nearly every school leader recognizes the value and importance of ongoing PD for their faculty and staff – but effective and successful school leaders know that much of what passes for PD today has minimal measurable, immediate results, let alone a lasting impact on their efforts toward continual school improvement. 

Fortune 500 companies invest tens of thousands of dollars annually in their leaders’ ongoing development of trust. Many school leaders forgo ongoing professional development for themselves, let-alone data-informed leadership PD (which I’ll address in a moment), despite the research findings that the number one indicator of a successful school is trusted leadership. These school leaders may recognize the value and importance of ongoing PD for themselves. However, they choose to invest limited PD resources in teacher development. The valuing of teacher development over leader development may seem logical but is actually in direct contrast to what research has shown regarding the ROI of professional development.  

What does the research say? 

Professional development and ongoing leadership training that focuses on increasing the TRUST level in leaders produce the greatest ROI, more so than investing in any other form of PD. Take a look:

Extensive studies reveal that schools who invest in developing high levels of trust in their leaders experience:

  • More stable and effective learning environments.
  • Higher levels of student achievement.
  • Lower incidents of student behavioral problems.
  • Stronger financial bottom lines (ROI for trust-based leader professional development ranges from $1.50 to $6.85 for every dollar spent)
  • Greater levels of teacher retention.
  • Increased contribution of the discretionary energy of school stakeholders. (i.e., people volunteer more!)

What is the critical element of trust-based professional development for school leaders? First and foremost, the training must be data-informed. In other words, to engage in meaningful professional development plans, there must be an openness to transparency and willingness to assess the current level of trust. Utilizing a research-based assessment tool such as the TrustED School Leader 360 Assessment identifies the specific skill sets and competencies that need to be addressed to increase trust levels. A frequent mistake that well-meaning school leaders make is launching a PD initiative because it is popular or perhaps because they are attempting to address a current issue or problem. There may be some value from the training, but the greatest ROI is realized when leaders let the data inform the training initiatives. A school leader’s level of trust is quantifiable. It can be assessed and measured – and then a detailed and strategic PD plan can be implemented that specifically addresses the areas which need attention – both for the executive leader and their team. 

Good schools spend a significant portion of their budgets on their faculty and staff’s continual professional development. The research shows that GREAT schools invest in increasing the level of trust in their leaders. That’s where they realize the greatest Return On their Investment. 

©Toby A. Travis, Ed.D. All Rights Reserved. 

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