Adopting an International Innovation for Teacher Professional Development: State and District Approaches to Lesson Study in Florida

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The state of Florida has taken an unprecedented approach to teacher professional development in its Race to the Top (RTTT) Program application by proposing to promote an international innovation that originates in Japan, “lesson study,” as a statewide teacher professional development model. Since winning the US$700 million RTTT funding in 2010, the Florida Department of Education and districts have been promoting lesson study as one of the statewide vehicles to implement the state standards aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This study analyzed the state and districts’ approaches to promote lesson study using policy documents, statewide district survey data, and interviews. We found that a majority of districts mandated lesson study implementation without securing or spending sufficient funding. In addition, the existing organizational structures and routines for professional development pose a major challenge in capacity building of district leaders and teachers to engage in lesson study.