The first standards initiative was launched in January 2011 by Dr. Hall, Associate Superintendent of Middle Schools for MNPS, and Dr. Jacqueline Shrago from Vanderbilt University. The initiative focuses on building middle school math teachers’ content knowledge and ability to “unpack,” or understand and prioritize, rigorous math standards. The teachers enrolled in the TOTAL program, representing approximately 50% of the middle school math teachers in MNPS, attended an initial training session, and were then grouped into professional learning communities that include a content expert as a facilitator/coach and several other middle school math teachers. The teachers work collaboratively to unpack and prioritize math standards, create lessons based on the standards, and synthesize input regarding their lessons from observations made by peers, coaches and self-reflections, in order to enhance the quality of their instruction. This method of professional development is distinct from prior approaches because it is job-embedded, as opposed to requiring teachers to be pulled out of school to attend a training offsite, and requires application of the training to classroom instruction through the iterative approach to lesson planning and revision. This extended process of feedback ensures that teachers are provided effective, targeted professional development focused on the continual improvement of their content knowledge and instructional practice. Additionally, this form of professional development is based on collaboration, providing teachers with the support of coaches and colleagues.