In an effort to better educate students, newly appointed Philadelphia Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Hull presented a plan of professional development for administrators and teachers at last week's school board meeting.

Hull stressed that the need for professional development is not due to a lack of improvement by the schools, but rather a better way to address weaknesses.

No specific date was given for the starting of professional development, but it is slated to begin in September. Hull said they are working on contracting with different groups that specialize in specific subjects.

While the script will be flipped and teachers will be the ones receiving instruction and advice, Hull says it is all to ensure the students leave better prepared for their next endeavor.

"The goal of professional development is to improve student achievement," Hull said. "We want them to learn skills they need to succeed. They can show us different ways to do things to help children improve."

Hull is familiar with this process, having used professional development during her time in Lauderdale County. She also said this is something Philadelphia Public Schools have done in the past.

"We started on some of this last year, so this year we are just building on what we know works," she said. "This helps us identify weaknesses and ask ourselves if it is something we need assistance overcoming."

Hull says the first priority is to get every student's reading and math skills up to grade level, although the extended goal is get them above grade level.

Board members were given a packet with information about the basics of professional development as well as a rational behind why it would be an effective strategy.

Professional development mostly focuses on analyzing previous student performances and giving teachers and administrators independent feedback. The process helps improve communication as well as get students more involved in the learning process. It will also help teachers better recognize and assess learning challenges among their students.