Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Janice V. Kristo

Second Committee Member

Rosemary A. Bamford

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth J. Allan

Additional Committee Members

Craig Mason

Mary Ellin Logue


This study explored the use of standards to plan, implement, and evaluate Adult Education Professional Development (AEPD) by adult education professional developers. When the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Adult and Vocational Education visits a state and asks the following question: "What impact does your professional development have on student outcomes?" there is an explicit expectation of accountability for student outcomes.

Guided by two research questions, the intent of this study was to identify the current use of professional development standards in AEPD practice. Forty-nine state adult education directors (excluding Maine) were invited via e-mail to participate. One email interview and eighteen telephone interviews were conducted. Each interview utilized the standardized interview tool (Peterson, 2000) designed for this study and followed the interview protocol. The study was a basic interpretative qualitative research design (Merriam, 2002) using inductive analysis to organize and examine the data (Hatch, 2002).

The analysis led to two recommendations to assist AEPD practitioners in the process of designing a standards-based AEPD system. The critical first step to enable all 50 states to proceed with the same expectation of a standards-based AEPD system is the need for written federal policy to guide each state in planning, implementing, and evaluating standards-based AEPD intended to impact student outcomes. Next, once federal policy is available, state AEPD leadership should proceed to plan, implement, and evaluate a standards-based Adult Education Professional Development system. This study identified ten steps and available resources to guide AEPD professionals in this change process to plan, implement, and evaluate standards-based professional development.

The final conclusion of this study is that intentionally planned, implemented, and evaluated standards-based Adult Education Professional Development is not common practice. In this age of accountability, the need to improve the professional knowledge and skills of adult education practitioners to impact 90 million adults in need of education services is greater than ever. Adult Education Professional Development is now at a crossroads; each of the fifty states can seize this opportunity to act decisively to meet the challenges of transitioning to a standards-based adult education professional development system or continue with current practice.