How to Conduct More Effective Professional Development

CDC Professional Development Practices

Professional Development (PD) is an intentionally designed, systematic process used to strengthen the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of a particular workforce. The goal of PD, in the context of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) priorities, is to help improve the health, education, and well-being of youth. Professional development contributes to this goal by enhancing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of health and education professionals so that they can more effectively implement strategies that positively impact young people. The strategies may support classroom management, effective teaching, and the DASH strategies, such as sexual health education, sexual health services, and safe and supportive environments.


The CDC Professional Development Practices pdf icon[PDF – 4 pages] (PDPs) are a series of steps based on research and best practices. When effectively applied, they increase active learner engagement and provide optimal conditions for the transfer of learning and implementation of the knowledge and skills in the work setting. These practices provide a process to achieve sustainability over time.

This website describes the six PDPs and provides tools and resources to assist school districts in achieving a sustainable professional development framework.  The PDPs are not necessarily distinct, but provide a way to describe important parts of the PD process.

DASH Definitions:

  • Professional Development Event is a set of skill-building processes and activities designed to assist targeted groups of participants in mastering specific learning objectives. Such events are delivered in an adequate time span (at least three hours) and may include curriculum and other training, workshops, and online or distance learning courses.
  • Professional Development Offering is events, information and presentation sessions, and technical assistance.
  • Technical Assistance is targeted support provided to an individual or group of individuals with the intent to increase knowledge and skills to strengthen an organization’s capacity to achieve PS18-1807 NOFO goals. Support may be provided through professional development events, technical assistance, the provision of guidance and resource materials, or referrals to other agencies or organizations.
Professional Development Practices Inventory

The CDC Professional Development (PD) Practices Inventory was developed to assist DASH funded partners in identifying best practices and processes for establishing a comprehensive professional development (PD) program. The Inventory is designed as a tool for an individual and/or team to assess strengths, areas of growth, priorities, and next steps in the implementation of the CDC PD Practices.


  1. Individually, or with other colleagues responsible for providing effective professional development, review all or selected CDC PD Practice Inventory items.
  2. Decide if each CDC PD Practice item is “not yet in place”, “partially in place”, “mostly in place”, or “fully in place”.
  3. Determine your strengths and areas of growth for each CDC PD Practice reviewed.
  4. Identify your priorities and next steps to implement each CDC PD Practice reviewed.

Professional Development is critical to the success of school health initiatives and required for PS18-1807. Using the CDC Professional Development Practices can ensure that the staff in your district and schools have capacity to effectively implement strategies that positively impact the health and well-being of young people.

You can email for assistance with using these CDC PD Practices in your work.

CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health and CDC’s School Health Branch collaborated on the original development of the CDC Professional Development Practices. This product was developed by RMC Health under contract 2008-N-09681. The Division of Adolescent and School Health and the School Health Branch continue to jointly use the CDC PD Practices, and to promote their importance with their funded partners.

Modified by the ICF-CDC DASH Professional Learning Collaborative (PLC), 2019. Adapted from CDC DASH Professional Development Practices: At-a-Glance | ETR-CDC DASH Professional Learning Collaborative (PLC), 2018. Original version created by RMC Health-CDC DASH Professional Development Partnership (PDP), 2010.