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by Performance Matters

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PD, human resource tools for K-12 districts to build skills and track data on professional growth


Truenorthlogicdoes not create professional development content but instead provides aplatform where all the pieces of professional development can connect with oneanother. It helps districts manage tasks including tracking certification,evaluations, course catalogues, course enrollment, coaching and mentoring, andimprovement plans, and centralizes this information in one place. Districts use Truenorthlogic to support teacher, leader, and professional growth.

Truenorthlogic(TNL) works with large districts and states to configure a customized versionof its platform (with over 1,000 points of configuration) to meet the specificneeds of an individual district. Configuration points include things likecustomizing workflows, dates, deadlines, auto notifications, configuring whencertain options get locked down, and the sequence it leads users through on theplatform.

Schoolsuse the platform to facilitate their professional development delivery systems.The most popular functions used by TNL clients include:

  • PD Diagnostic: This tool gives teachers an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses by using multiple points of evaluation data such as classroom observations, anonymous student and family perception surveys, student achievement, and self-assessments. It compares that information to a rubric set by the districts and then uses an algorithm to calculate each teacher’s cumulative score in each domain of the rubric. It also identifies areas for improvement, as well as customized PD resource recommendations;
  • PD Learning Management: Districts can use a custom-configured platform to manage professional development course rosters, course registration, and to connect that data back to a teachers’ profile and evaluations. PD opportunities are role-based, meaning that each learner only views PD that is relevant to their role;
  • Support Student Learning Objectives: For teachers who don’t have a statewide assessment in their content area, the TNL platform offers alternative assessments, as well as pre- and post-assessment tracking. It then calculates the impact teachers make on their classroom. This can then be included in a teacher’s observation and evaluation (used by the state of Georgia and Washoe);
  • Managing Calibration of Observations: Observers use videos to review a teacher’s performance on the platform. Once they are done submitting time stamped comments on the video, they are given an automatic score on how their observations measured up against an ideal set of feedback (used by State of New York, Connecticut, and LAUSD).

EachTNL product is unique to the district for which it was built. Some districts basesalary increases on a teachers’ history (within TNL) of PD credits andobservation data. Others use it to manage HR functions including recruiting. It is also used to link a teacher’s HR records to their course participationand evaluation records. 

TNL is a big ticket item for most school districts. Contracts vary extensively, but start in the $300,000 range.

Users include major districts like New York City, Chicago Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified School District. Georgia, Hawaii, Utah, and Connecticut also have their own platforms created by TNL. 

  • Purpose: Engage, Learn, Support, Measure
  • Primary Users: Teachers, Administrators, School Districts, States
  • Cost: Because there is such a range of products, TNL does not provide pricing before a consultation. However, the lowest contracts EdSurge has found on public record start at $300,000. Prices vary based on the software module a district wants to use and the number of users within the district. Contracts are based on an annual licensing fee per user and one-time implementation fee.
  • Skill Development: Academic Content, Instructional Skills, Pedagogy
  • On-Label Use: School personnel use TNL as an LMS and for a range of HR needs such as professional development and teacher evaluation. TNL can also bring a lot of different types of data together (i.e. LMS, SIS, and HR systems).
  • Platforms: Web-based, available on tablets, desktops, and laptops
  • Deal breakers: This is a system meant to be purchased by districts or states
  • Types of SchoolsUsing It: Large districts andstates

Product Brief

Value Added :

Truenorthlogicaims to help districts and states streamline school processes and createdigital records for all the district’s systems that relate to teacherdevelopment.

Truenorthlogic(TNL) excels at engineering a platform that integrates with other data systemstypically used by schools, such as Student Information Systems and other HRportals. It allows schools to tie those records back to each teacher to betterinform their professional development.

Thesystem is designed to be adapted to the needs of the state or districtcustomers. TNL will also label its portal for a particular district. Forexample, the system for Atlanta Public Schools combines all the contentproviders that serve the area’s schools into a single content catalog and brandsit as the “Atlanta Public Schools Professional Learning Center.”

How does it work?

Beforeschools begin the procurement process with TNL, the district or state shoulddevelop a list of requirements and needs. TNL often begins the process byresponding to an RFP that districts put out with a list of requirements suchas, “it needs to integrate the HR management system the district currently useswith a PD course catalogue.”

Oncethe district contracts with TNL, the district forms its own cross-functional team,which can include folks from different departments, as well as district systemarchitects, and project managers. TNL then holds a kickoff meeting with the district’scross functional team and four to six company staff. In this launch meeting,the TNL team uses its proprietary framework to assess the needs of the districtand system it could build to meet them. This meeting uncovers many of thetechnical and process details within the district and lasts multiple days.

TNLthen puts together a project plan, including a scope and sequence of featuresit will rollout. Exactly how long it will take to roll out initial features variesfrom case to case. The company schedules weekly meetings with the district’sproject team to discuss progress and rollout.

Once the platform is built and rolled out to theusers (based on the district’s rollout plan), each user will have his or herown personal page and be able to create a portfolio of individualized ordistrict-wide professional goals. The TNL talent management system then does adiagnostic evaluation accessing all the users’ data from the district’s studentassessment system, previous evaluations, background information, previousprofessional development courses, certifications, licensures and any surveysfrom students.

Itweighs that information against a rubric set by the district and uses analgorithm to give users cumulative scores in each domain of the rubric. Thediagnostic lists areas of improvement and a customized list of PD resourcerecommendations designated by the district. They can access all these options directlythrough the platform.

Furtheruser interaction on the platform could include anything from enrolling andtaking online PD courses to recording the interactions between a coach andmentee, which all occur through the TNL system.

Teachersin a district will continue to use the TNL system to do things like enrollingand taking an online PD course, recording interactions with a coach, and settingprofessional development goals.

TNLdoes not create content but houses content from other partners. TNL recently launched PD Connect, a marketplace that offers self-paced courses from content providers such as ASCD, Educational Impact, Learning Bridges, and The Master Teacher. PD Connect allows districts to use a pre-purchase or pay-as-you-go model.

Forinstance: working through TNL, a teacher can search for a course that is aligned to a district goal, register for, and even take acourse on the Common Core offered by ASCD. The course results are then saved byTNL and can be catalogued on the teacher’s transcript (which is also kept onthe TNL platform).

How is it used?

Thereare a variety of use cases, depending on the needs of the district and the way theychoose to customize the platform. Uses range from HR needs, professionaldevelopment course sign ups, to resource recommendations and coachingdocumentation.

Schooladministrative staff can use TNL to manage a school’s HR procedures and recordsincluding new teacher hires, onboarding, coaching and mentoring, riskmanagement, evaluation, and succession planning. The system can monitor new hires and recommendcourses and coaching to improve upon initial weaknesses  (based on the district’s own teaching rubric) thatmay affect their long-term practice. These recommendations are based on theteacher’s history, credentials and certifications, school-wide goals, and theteacher’s professional learning goals. For example, a new teacher with only onecertification would be given different recommendations than a teacher withmany.

Districtsand states can customize the system to create a professional development planfor all teachers and administrators. District or state administrators cancreate several PD pathways for teachers based on recorded observation data,where they are in their certification process, and on the subject matter theyteach.  A district can develop a track that involves steps or courses thatlead to a district-wide development goal. For example, a district may have an“Ethics and Equity” improvement goal for the year. The district can assignvarious workshops, courses, modules, and assignments that teachers are requiredto complete through the TNL system.

InAtlanta, teachers and administrators are using four independent contentproviders (including Moodle and Blackboard) for coursework, coaching, andmentoring. TNL worked with the Atlanta Public Schools to integrate the contentinto one (virtual) place. Via a single login to TNL, teachers andadministrators now can get to a unified catalogue of programs; data is alsostored in one place on the cloud.

Maryland’sMontgomery County Public School District uses TNL as a unifying human resourcessystem. The company reports that it has helped Montgomery County streamline itsrecruitment activities, track school vacancies and expedite onboarding,payroll, and tuition reimbursement for new teachers.

TheNew Teacher Center uses the TNL to track coaching and mentoring interactionsbetween new teachers and their coaches. The center asks its coaches to fill outa record of their coaching interactions with mentees. It then aggregates thoseforms on the site and shares the data with districts. This consolidation allowsa district to see which coaching relationships have the most impact.

Districtscan also work with TNL to configure the platform to support specific programsand grants. For instance, TNL has worked with districts to support followingprograms:

  • No Child Left Behind Waivers - TNL aggregates educator effectiveness data including performance management, professional development, student outcomes, human resources, to ensure teachers are directed towards the best growth opportunities.
  • Race To The Top - TNL implemented teacher and administrator quality platforms to measure effectiveness in states and districts that have excelled in the Race To The Top program.
  • Teacher Incentive Fund - TNL supports requirements for this program such as teacher retention, assessment, and

Teacher Incentive Fund - TNL supports requirements for this program like educator retention, assessment, and performance-based compensation.

Who’s Using It?

During the 2013-2014 school year, TNLsupported over 2.8 million registered users and was used by 60 states and school districts including:

  • New York City Department of Education
  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Georgia Department of Education
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • Hawaii Department of Education
  • Utah State Office of Education
  • North Carolina Department of Education

TNLserves 9 of the top 20 largest districts and 14% of states in the U.S. Its longeststanding relationship is with the Utah State Office of Education.

Content, Content, Content….

TNLdoes not create content but can integrate and house content from more than adozen partner organizations including ASCD and Educational Impact. The Professional Learning Management Suite helps districts manage professional learning including registration, credit typing, transcripts, completion certificates, and course evaluations. For example, ASCDoffers courses through TNL that cover topics like Common Core, DifferentiatedInstruction, Learning Technologies, and Community Building. Teachers can self-selectcourses, or districts can assign courses based on PD needs. All courseinformation is saved to a transcript through TNL, and accessible by the teacherand administration.

Training, Integrating, and Implementing


TNLwill send a team of certified trainers to work with thedistrict to do comprehensive trainings and ongoing support. Training sessionsare customized for districts based on their needs. However, Truenorthlogic usuallyuses a train-the-trainer model, in which a select group from the district willbe trained by the company, and will then go on to train others.

Trainingdoes come at an additional cost. However, this cost is usually bundled into thefinal contract agreement.


Truenorthlogic is the system in which other systems can be integrated. Other PD sites like PD360, ASCD, and Teachscape offer courses through their API. TNL brings together multiple systems such as PD, LMS, SIS, and HR systems.


Allteachers, administrators, and school personnel receive access to theirdistrict’s own TNL site via their HR department. If the HR department alreadyhas its own platform and login for users, then all the data from the HRdepartment will be ported over into the TNL system. Users will each have onlyone login for the whole system, so they can access their account through asingle sign on.

Assessment and Data

TNLis designed to provide data on teacher performance and to create plans forfuture growth. The system displays data via an analytics dashboard and also through color coded graphs. The focusis to provide schools with actionable data, which will help administratorschart plans for teacher professional development, HR needs, certifications,student outcomes, performance management, and so on.

Districtscan use over 40  pre-determined reports for different sets of users such asteachers and administrators, such as a evaluation status based on sites or by role, which PD courses have been taken. Users can also customize and run their own reportsas well.  


TheTNL systems are a big-ticket item for school districts. The development of theplatform involves the district appointing a dedicated internal team to managethe relationship and customization of the platform. Because of this, itrequires quite a bit of resources and upfront cost just to begin the process.



TNLis customizable depending on the district's needs. Users typically need to be online toaccess the system. Some materials can be downloaded as PDFs or videos and usedoffline. The entire platform and all the data are stored in the cloud.


Costdepends on the system that is created and how many people will be accessing it. 

ArizonaDepartment of Education spent over $300,000 on its platform in October2012, created by TNL. Connecticut Department of Education spent $589,600 and Washoe CountySchools in Reno, NV spent $1.2 million over fouryears.


SinceTNL doesn’t offer the content for professional development, teachers don’t earnPD credit typically for just using the platform. It does collect and track thePD credits that they do earn. Precisely what activities teachers must do to earn credit is established district by district. 


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For Administrators For Administrators


Anytime Anywhere Anytime Anywhere

Classroom Performance Classroom Performance

Content Repository Content Repository

Credits and Certificates Credits and Certificates

Data Driven Data Driven

Differentiated Differentiated

Evaluate Evaluate

Goal Based Goal Based

Instructional Skills Instructional Skills

Manage Manage

PD Usage PD Usage

Performance Based Performance Based

Portfolio Portfolio

Professional Development Products Professional Development Products

Self Assessment Self Assessment

Social Network Social Network

Student Achievement Data Student Achievement Data

Talent Management Talent Management

Teacher Evaluation Teacher Evaluation

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