PD Activity Guidelines

Shooting Star PD Word Splash2


Taken from the SPS Administrator Handbook, Revised August 2017


Suffolk Public Schools supports the Virginia Department of Education’s belief that the commitment to continuous learning and growth in knowledge and skill is a vital quality of all professionals. The mission of Office of Professional Development is to provide professional growth opportunities and training that support sustainable capacity building among our staff. Professional learning activities will provide instructional staff with resources and knowledge to enhance acquired skills that result in effective and innovative teaching, as well as increased student achievement. All professional development initiatives are designed in alignment with the School Board goals and the division’s Comprehensive Plan. The Office of Professional Development works diligently to offer a variety of activities designed to foster continuous personal and professional growth for instructional and non-instructional personnel. The Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning are also used in the development, facilitation, implementation, and evaluation of all the division’s professional learning activities to promote high levels of quality and effectiveness.


In Suffolk Public Schools, STAR Points are awarded at one point per clock/contact hour of time spent in activities that contribute to the participants’ professional knowledge, competence, performance or effectiveness in education. In order for a professional development activity to qualify for STAR points, the substance or content of each activity must clearly align with one or more of the following six Domains of Professional Competency in Education outlined by the Virginia License Renewal Manual, April 2017.

  1. curriculum or subject(s) specifically related to one’s assigned professional duties or responsibilities;
  2. specialization area one serves or reasonably expects to serve (Examples of specialization areas include, but are not limited to, English, mathematics, history and social studies, sciences, career and technical education, or special education.);
  3. concepts, principles, and methods of effective teaching, supervision, and administration (Examples include, but are not limited to, classroom and behavior management, leadership skills, curriculum development, and administrative management.);
  4. concepts and principles of physical, intellectual, psychological, social, and emotional development of children and youth;
  5. concepts and principles of communication, learning, exceptionality, individuality, and cultural differences (Examples include, but are not limited to, oral and written communication, motivation, retention, and individual differences.); and
  6. concepts and principles of effective relationships among schools, families, and communities.

The eight professional development activity categories, or options, defined by Virginia License Renewal Manual, April 2017 are:

  1. College Credit
  2. Professional Conference
  3. Curriculum Development
  4. Publication of Article
  5. Publication of Book
  6. Mentorship/Supervision
  7. Educational Project
  8. Professional Development Activities

It is the sole responsibility of all licensed staff to obtain and monitor their professional development activity documentation. While in-district professional development activities are mostly documented in the Edivate Catalog system, documentation of activities attended OUTSIDE the district or by an organization other than Suffolk Public Schools are not tracked within the Edivate system. Documentation of activities attended OUTSIDE of the school division, face-to-face and online, must include evidence of the content of the activity, the amount of time the activity required, and the date or date range of the activity in order for verification of its point value to be determined. Verification of alignment for activities attended OUTSIDE of the school division may be granted by the school administrator and/or the professional development specialist.


In order to ensure the active attainment of yearly professional growth for licensed instructional personnel, each employee is required to earn a minimum of fifteen (15) STAR Points on a yearly cycle basis and to be accumulated between May 1st to April 30th. It is the responsibility of each instructional employee to establish professional learning goals each fall and document the STAR Points earned toward supporting those goals in the spring on the annual Professional Development Plan. The annual Professional Development Plan is an electronic PDF form and is available on the Staff Portal under Forms. The successful completion and documentation of earned STAR Points on the Professional Development Plan will be evaluated as part of Standard 6: Professionalism on every licensed employee’s annual Summative Evaluation.

Licensed staff are responsible for satisfying license renewal requirements as set forth in the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel and the Code of Virginia. One of those requirements is the obtainment of 180 renewal (STAR) points from professional development activity participation within each five-year license cycle.


Administrators may organize and facilitate professional development activities in their buildings or for their departments. In order for the activity to qualify for STAR points, there must be a minimum of five hours per activity, but the five hours do not have to be consecutive and may connect to similar professional learning content that has already occurred or will occur in the future. An activity should not be a routine employment responsibility. All activities must be approved PRIOR to taking place by the Assistant Superintendent and must be align with one or more of the six Domains of Professional Competency in Education as outlined by the Virginia License Renewal Manual, April 2017. The Application for School-Based or Department Professional Development Activity is an electronic form and is available on the Staff Portal under Forms. Upon approval of any application, a training unit will be created in Edivate to track and document participation for the activity. It is the responsibility of the activity’s administrator to facilitate attendance within Edivate or ensure attendance information is provided to the Office of Professional Development in a two weeks after the completion of the activity.

The following chart outlines common activities and their documentation source.

Common Professional Development Activities Documentation Source
New Teacher Orientation Edivate
District-sponsored Preservice Professional Development Activities Edivate
District-sponsored (Citywide) Steering/Grade Level/Department Meetings Edivate
School-based/Department Professional Development Activities – Application Approved (See additional guidelines regarding routine meetings below.) Edivate
Cooperating Teacher/Counselor for any Field-based Experience Placement (Observation, Participation, Practicum, Student-Teaching, Internship) Retain copy of College or University Provided Student Time Record with Signatures
Curriculum Writing Edivate
Mentoring Teachers & Teacher Cadets Retain copies of the Mentor Time Record
TARGET Year 1 Trainings Edivate
LAPP (Leadership Academy) Edivate
CPR, First Aid, and AED Hands-on Certification ONLY Retain Organization Provided Certificate/Card
College or University Coursework (Face-to-Face or Online) Retain Transcript                       (Unofficial may be used as evidence for yearly STAR Point)
Web-based Learning Experiences (Webinars, Non-credit bearing learning courses) Retain Organization Provided Documentation

Additional Guidelines for Using Routine Meetings as Professional Development Activities

While instructional staff regularly participate in several types of meetings, these meetings are not typically facilitated solely with a professional learning focus for the participants. However, most of these meetings are structured into the school schedule creating prime opportunities for offering job-embedded professional development activities to the staff involved. In order for Leadership, Data, Faculty, or Grade Level/Department Planning meetings to be approved as a bonafide professional learning activity, the following actions MUST occur:

  1. An Application for School-Based or Department Professional Development Activity MUST be SUBMITTED AND APPROVED PRIOR to the first meeting. Be sure to submit well in advance of the first meeting date to allow for possible required revisions before approval is granted.
  2. The application must describe in detail the specific learning design(s) being used to facilitate professional learning during the meeting times AND the systematic approach/structure/timeline being used to connect the learning over time to satisfy the 5-hour activity minimum. This information should be provided as an attachment with the application. The Professional Learning Gap Analysis form may be used to document these requirements.
  3. The professional learning activity must be aligned to School Improvement Plan goals and/or Academic Review Essential Actions and the alignments documented on the application.
  4. The agenda for the first meeting must be submitted with the application. An agenda with minutes must be taken at each meeting.
  5. Agendas with minutes for all meetings listed on the application must be submitted before points will be granted.

While employees are required to complete year routine video trainings using the SafeSchools/eSchools system, these training do not qualify for STAR points as they are repeated content on a yearly based.


Edivate is the on-demand professional learning resource that is available to all division instructional staff. Each instructional staff member has their own account that provides them access to a variety of learning content from among thousands of videos, courses, and training tools. School and department organized professional development activities will be tracked in the Catalogs section of the system. Users can register for professional learning opportunities offered by the district or their school, track the activities they participated in and monitor the credits they have earned on their Catalog Transcript. Credits are equivalent to the STAR points earned for each activity.

The Transcript can be access by:

  • Go to edivate.com and login. Your username will be your division email address. You can click Forgot Password to have your password sent to your email address.
  • Click Personal Reports
  • Click the Transcript

Instructional staff may earn STAR points through video activity completed in Edivate. Using Edivate, one STAR point will be granted for completing all three of the following activities:

  • View any selected video segment in its entirety
  • Answer all three reflection questions using professional language & structure
  • Answer all three follow-up questions using professional language & structure

The Office of Professional Development will issue credit for the completion of videos with reflection and follow-up questions on a quarterly basis and will appear on each user’s Official Transcript found in the Catalog section of the system. Edivate activity during the summer will be processed as well during the first quarter. All answers to reflection and follow-up questions will be monitored for professional quality by the Office of Professional Development.

There are also a variety of Edivate Courses available to instructional staff for STAR points throughout the school and during the summer. Course participation requires registration in the Catalog. While the Micro-Credentials learning components are accessible by users, they are currently not monitored for completion and therefore do not qualify for STAR points.

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