Empowering Teacher Learning

Teacher professional development is a concept that can be met with skepticism by educators in the field. Too often the experiences provided to teachers don't correlate with their personal goals or classroom aspirations. That's where our projects come in.


The Empowering Teacher Learning Project is a 5-year, $12M research project funded by the US Department of Education that will measure the impacts of a teacher-directed professional learning program in rural, western North Carolina middle schools.

As part of the program, teachers will earn licensure renewal credits (CEUs) by completing teacher-selected, online, competency-based micro-credentials.


The Gaining Retention and Effectiveness through Advancing Teacher-directed STEM Professional Learning (GREAT STEM) is a 3-year, $1M research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

High school STEM teachers are given choice and support in their professional learning as they earn licensure renewal credits (CEUs) and stipends by completing teacher-selected, online, competency-based micro-credentials.

At the heart of both of these programs are partnerships between NC Schools, App State, NCDPI, Digital Promise, and NC State. It is our belief that when teachers are given choice and support in their professional learning, it can lead to benefits for teachers, students, and communities.


  • Teachers earn a stipend per micro-credential
  • Teachers decide on professional learning needs, goals, topics, and pacing
  • Teachers earn competency-based online micro-credentials
  • Coaches support teachers on micro-credential journey
  • 100% of earned micro-credentials can be used towards recertification CEUs
  • Research team will measure project impacts and share all relevant data with districts

What districts do these programs partner with?


Latest News

EPFP Cohort

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Rachel Nelson, Empowering Teacher Learning Assistant Director for Teacher Outreach, reflects on the progress and growth of the program over the past f...

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Perspective | North Carolina schools are anything but ‘low-performing’

Over the past three months, our team from the Empowering Teacher Learning (ETL) project at Appalachian State University has been traversing western No...