Small MS District Finds Success through Differentiated PD

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The Ocean Springs School District (OSSD) is located in the quaint community of Ocean Springs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is a small district composed of eight schools serving 5,500 students. Since it was a small village in the 1850s, education has been important to the people of Ocean Springs and there are high expectations for both students and teachers.

• The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits all OSSD eight schools, the highest standard of accreditation Mississippi schools can achieve. 

• Maintaining a Level 5 status on the Mississippi School Performance Levels, the district has continued to meet criteria established by the No Child Left Behind Act. District scores on statewide assessments are well above the state average and traditionally fall within the top ten districts in Mississippi.


Student success is at the forefront of OSSD’s objectives. Through deliberate hiring and professional development (PD) practices, it has built up a group of committed, hard working professionals who have created an excellent learning environment. OSSD continually utilizes a large amount of time and effort on PD to improve education. District focuses include:

• Common CORE
• Differentiated Instruction
• Technology
• Assessment
• Writing


OSSD purchased PD 360 for a few of its schools in 2007. Without a focused district-wide push, teachers did not catch the vision and the program was discontinued.

A few years later, School Improvement Network re-contacted OSSD Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Edna Waller. When she saw how much PD 360 had grown in content and capabilities, she knew it was time to try again and encouraged the district to purchase three years for all schools. This time teacher response and usage are thriving.  


PD 360 is an on-demand library of professional teacher development resources that leverages technology to make professional learning more effective, convenient, and sustainable. With over 200 hours of research-based video content, plus tools for follow-up, tracking, reflection, and group training, PD 360 is the most comprehensive solution to professional teacher development needs.

More than 700,000 educators across North America already use PD 360 to access individualized support on the most relevant topics, like differentiation, minority student achievement, English language learners, classroom instruction that works, leadership, assessment, and many more. PD 360’s content is divided into hundreds of indexed and searchable segments that make it easy for teachers, administrators, aspiring leaders, coaches, mentors, paraprofessionals, and professional learning communities to find the answers they need. New content is added continuously to keep educators up-to-date. See a demonstration at


• New Teacher Training
Teachers new to OSSD are introduced to PD 360 as part of the orientation program. After learning about district goals and objectives, new teachers are given assignments to watch certain videos that show implementation of classroom practices.

• Teacher Certification Renewal
Teaching Certificates must be renewed every five years with Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or college coursework earned during the validity period of the license. The Mississippi Department of Education no longer holds approval over programs used for CEU credit. School districts now choose their own programs and give CEUs.

OSSD teachers use PD 360 to earn CEUs. To do so, they must watch an entire program and complete all reflection and follow-up questions that are then tracked by administrators. 

• Walkthroughs/Observations
OSSD principals are expected to visit the classroom of each teacher on a regular basis to offer suggestions and give encouragement. These visits have a huge impact on teacher training and improvement. After a classroom observation, a principal can email specific PD 360 segment links that are relevant to the instructional needs of that teacher to provide easy and effective, job-embedded follow-up.

• Group Training
Showing any of the 1,500 PD 360 video segments will enhance group teacher training. Principals are able to determine which segments most effectively address their school’s needs and plan group PD around those segments. One OSSD staff meeting even had teachers learning to do desktop yoga, a program by renowned education consultant, J. Allen Queen.

• Struggling Teachers
Principals help teachers who struggle by suggesting specific PD 360 programs as part of the teacher’s Plan of Improvement. When there is an issue in their classrooms, they are directed to such topics as classroom management, diversity, and many more. To follow the teacher’s growth, administrators can track usage as well as answers to reflection and follow-up questions.


• Educator Enthusiasm
OSSD educators are pleased with PD 360. Though the district does not mandate use, activity is increasing.
Ocean Springs School District
PD 360 Usage Highlights
August 2010 – June 2011

Percent of registered users that have viewed                     76%
Average minutes viewed per user                                          53.8
Total minutes viewed                                                                14,098
• Cost Effective
OSSD administrators have found PD 360 to be very economical. The expenditure is much less than traditional PD and can be purchased with a variety of funding sources available to districts. In this case, OSSD was able to pay for PD 360 with Hurricane Katrina Recovery funding as well as the district budget.

“PD 360 is cost effective for Ocean Springs School District because it is always there for us. Drastic budget cuts have made it difficult to send teachers to training and conferences but PD 360 is there to train teachers in needed areas by the real experts in education.”

Dr. Edna Waller
Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction
Ocean Springs School District, MS

• Accessibility/User Capacity
Dr. Waller finds it “very appealing” that teachers can access PD 360 anytime and anywhere the Internet is available, viewing segments and programs as many times as they wish and as often as they require. Teachers are encouraged to take charge of their learning on their own time schedule.

• Large Library of Content/Relevant Topics
OSSD educators are immediately finding the help they need in the 1,500 fully indexed, professional development video segments that address the most pertinent topics and have easy search ability. In addition, PD 360 continues to add up-to-date programs.

• Job Embedded
Dr. Waller wanted a PD program to meet the diversity of teacher needs and abilities, not a one-time, one-size-fits-all event but an evolving process of growth that is focused on job-embedded responsibilities. As questions and situations arise in classrooms, teachers easily find answers in PD 360 and receive support for improving teaching skills when it is needed. 

This small district is glad it gave PD 360 a second chance and is now enjoying the advantages. OSSD teachers have caught the vision and usage is up as they draw on it for orientation, certificate renewal, and classroom improvement. Best of all, students are benefitting from highly skilled teachers. 

“PD 360 is an outstanding, quality professional development product that can be used in so many ways. It is continually growing and remains timely. I am delighted to recommend it to other districts.”

Dr. Edna Waller
Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction
Ocean Springs School District, MS


School Improvement Network is the leading provider of teacher education and teacher training, specializing in on-demand, research-based professional development anytime, anywhere. As the home of The Video Journal of Education, PD 360, Observation 360 and the Learning 360 Framework, School Improvement Network’s education training resources focus on the most relevant topics, such as classroom management, minority student achievement, English language learners, and more. The resources also feature top experts such as Michael Fullan and Douglas Reeves, and show how to put theory into practice. With its focus on long-term improvement, sustainability, and greater internal capacity, School Improvement Network helps its clients close achievement gaps, meet high standards, and increase student learning for both elementary education and secondary education. To learn more about School Improvement Network’s dynamic resources, visit

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Ocean Springs School District, MS-Case Study from School Improvement Network