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A professional development evaluation is a written assessment, usually written by an employer and an employee jointly, of that employee's development goals. The professional development evaluation is used to define an employee's immediate and long-term development goals within his or her profession and can contain anything from training courses and certifications to learning activities. Many different professions employ the use of professional development evaluations, specifically professions in which it is necessary to continually hone skills in relation to technology, new and updated techniques, or intellectual advancements within the field.
As part of a professional development evaluation, an employer and an employee will meet to discuss that employee's professional development history, their areas of strengths and weaknesses, and their short and long-term goals within the field. From this information, the employer and employee will write a plan based on the professional development evaluation that will include training courses to be taken, instructional workshops to be attended, new skills to be learned, and so forth. A professional development evaluation is generally tailored to the individual employee, so no two professional development plans will be the same.
In some professions, the employer pays most or all fees associated with professional development activities. On top of that, in many cases, as an employee reaches professional development goals, a stipend may be issued to that employee. In other prrofessions, professional development evaluation and participation is required by an employer as part of an employee's regular duties; therefore, no additional stipends or funding is issued to the employee. Such practices are typically defined by the employer or, in the case of education, the school district or state department of education.
While some employees participate in professional development evaluation simply out of interest in continuing education and lifelong learning, others participate as a result of mandatory requirements. Teachers in most states, for example, are required to participate in professional development evaluation as part of their contract. They must keep abreast of new technology and techniques, but they may also have to participate in professional development to keep their certification current. Requirements for certification vary from state to state, so teachers must keep informed of what classes, exams, and activities they must participate in to keep their teaching certification valid and current. Teachers may also include curriculum development and writing, peer mentoring or coaching, and career track activities (such as credit and non-credit classes) as their professional development activities.