RD678 - Prevailing Practice of Planning Time for Elementary Teachers – January 4, 2021

Executive Summary:

For elementary teachers, planning time is typically structured as blocks of time during the school day where they can plan and prepare for their classes, meet with students, or grade assignments. Section § 22.1-291.1 of the Code of Virginia requires local school boards to ensure that all elementary teachers are provided at least an average of 30 minutes per day during the students’ school week as planning time. This equates to at least 2.5 hours of scheduled planning time per instructional week.(*1)

Nationally, the average planning time for elementary teachers within the 124 largest school districts in the United States is higher than Virginia’s statutory requirements, with an average of 45 minutes of planning time per day.(*2) Increasingly, research also supports the use of common or collaborative planning time, where teams of teachers work together to learn from one another and collaborate on projects.(*3,*4) Very few school districts across the United States specifically require time for collaboration.(*1) The Code of Virginia also does not currently include any requirements for collaborative planning time.

The purpose of this study was to determine the prevailing practice of elementary teacher planning time within Virginia school divisions. The VDOE collected two sources of data to inform this study: (1) reports from Virginia school divisions on common planning time practices for elementary teachers; and (2) survey data from elementary teachers on their experiences with planning time.
(*1) Though not addressed through this study, Virginia requires secondary school teachers to receive 45 minutes per day for a planning period. See § 22.1-253.13:2, 8VAC20-131-5, 8VAC20-131-240.
(*2) National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Teacher Planning and Collaboration Time. Accessed from: https://www.nctq.org/blog/November-2017:-Teacher-Planning-and-Collaboration-Time.
(*3) Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX. National Staff Development Council.
(*4) Mertens, S. B., Flowers, N., Anfara Jr., V. A., & Caskey, M. M. (2010). Common Planning Time. Middle School Journal, 41(5), 50 - 57.