Book Review

A New Vision for Staff Development

Reviewed by Barbara Devlin,
Superintendent, Independent School
District 280, Richfield, Minn.


As school organizations become more results-driven and systems-oriented and as student learning becomes more active and constructivist, staff development is experiencing paradigm shifts as well. A New Vision for Staff Development, by Dennis Sparks and Stephanie Hirsch, describes 11 major shifts in staff development, including the following:

  • From a focus on individual development to a focus on both individual and organizational development;
  • From fragmented improvement efforts to staff development driven by strategic planning, resulting in aligned goals and activities at the district, school and department levels;
  • From a focus on adult needs and satisfaction to a focus on student needs and learning outcomes and changes in on-the-job behaviors;
  • From passive listening to presenters, often in out-of-district settings, to multiple forms of job-embedded learning.

Each chapter explores a major shift in staff development, illustrated by examples from school districts of varying sizes and geographic locations. The book provides a brief and readable summary of research and best practices in staff development, of value to administrators and staff at the district, building and department levels.

(A New Vision for Staff Development, by Dennis Sparks and Stephanie Hirsh, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1250 N. Pitt St., Alexandria, Va. 22314, 1997, 100 pp., $17.95 softcover)