Education, Training, and Development

Curriculum Guidelines Summary

What Court Leaders Need to Know and Be Able to Do

The Education, Training and Development Core Competency encompasses five curriculum guideline areas:

Context and Vision

Judicial branch education helps courts both maintain distinctive values such as due process and equal protection and respond to social forces including: demographics and population shifts, science, technology, resource limitations, decreased public satisfaction and increased public expectations, the self-represented, different and expanded services, and resistance to change.  When context, vision, purpose, and organizational performance focus on judicial branch education and define developmental needs, educational resources are better targeted, allocated, and managed.

Effective leaders understand that courts cannot achieve their organizational goals without the help of others inside and outside the court.  Courts are embedded in an interdependent justice system, which requires strong judicial leadership.  Judicial branch education should encourage and build through interagency cooperation and collaboration.  Court inspired collaboration and the strategic inclusion of others in judicial branch education enhances court and justice system performance while broadening judicial branch education resources.

Resource Development

Education, Training, and Development often is perceived as a luxury and, consequently, is assigned a low priority by insiders and funding authorities.  Effective court leaders advocate, justify, and work to acquire needed educational resources.  As they build awareness among insiders and funding authorities of the need for and benefits of judicial branch education, they persuade others that education is an investment that pays dividends year after year.  Persuasive advocacy links education needs to court performance, justice, and public service.  

Too often courts advocate for judicial branch education resources only from traditional funding authorities.  There are other options.  Untapped resources include the budgets, staff, and programs of other governmental branches, universities, the private sector, foundations, entrepreneurial ventures and partnerships, and not-for-profit organizations.  Competent court leaders seek out these resources and apply them to judicial branch education.  Successful courts find funds and time for Education, Training, and Development because it supports excellent court performance

Adult Education Fundamentals

For court leaders to oversee judicial branch education, they must understand adult education including: needs assessment, learning objectives, varied curriculum and program delivery including distance learning, faculty selection and preparation, mentoring, and evaluation.  Understanding adult education assists court leaders as they manage judicial branch education departments and staff, design and deliver programs, and select and develop faculty. 

Program Management

Education, Training, and Development must be well-managed and aligned with the court, its mission, vision, structures, and, very importantly, its internal workflows.  Since court management is a team sport, court leader oversight of judicial branch educators must encourage and reward work with and through others, both inside and outside the judiciary.

Quality education is not likely when the management of the court is not cohesive.  When the court is well-managed, judicial branch education is less likely to be a mere add-on or a largely irrelevant diversion from daily routines.

Human resource practice and policy and Education, Training, and Development must be integrated.  Managers and staff responsible for Education, Training, and Development and those responsible for recruitment, selection, orientation, job descriptions, job evaluation, classification, performance appraisal, the administration of pay and benefits, and succession planning must be on the same page, especially with respect to promising staff.  Both education and human resource policy and practice support and sustain a learning and development culture that is constant and creative, inclusive, accessible and tailored, well-managed, and evaluated.

The need for alignment of judicial branch education with the court’s management and operations extends past human resource staff to departmental leaders -- both judges and administrators -- and staff who work on the line, at the counter, on the phone, and in the courtroom.  When the court is well managed, judicial branch education can facilitate leadership and other employee transitions by increasing the problem solving capabilities and competence of judges and others in and aspiring to leadership positions.  As a result, court performance can be maintained in the face of staffing and leadership changes.  In high-performing courts, the contributions of talented staff increase through career-long judicial branch education coupled with skillful management and challenging assignments.  When necessary, talented staff are replaced by competent outsiders.


Evaluation validates and values effort and expenditures in relation to desired organizational outcomes.  Did the court’s performance improve?  Learner satisfaction ratings alone are not enough and can even be misleading.  While there is no best way or single reason to evaluate judicial branch education, court leaders encourage selection of appropriate measures of success and review and use evaluation data. Evaluation helps leaders and educators as they establish priorities, allocate existing and future resources, and seek to maintain, if not increase, funding.

Effective evaluation helps ensure clear communication of expectations, refines need assessments, ties learning objectives to desired outcomes, facilitates the acquisition of needed resources, and guides the equitable allocation of judicial branch education opportunities and resources.  Evaluation improves education methods, faculty performance, and program delivery.  Through evaluation, analysis, and discussion of outcomes, court leaders participate in monitoring and improving judicial branch education

Click on each of the five Curriculum Guidelines to see the associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

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