Abstract This paper outlines an emerging system for professional development based on profession-defined standards and values. Over the past ten years or so, teacher associations have demonstrated that the profession has the ability to reach a consensus on teaching standards without imposing uniformity of style. These standards indicate that the profession can lay down long-term professional development goals and priorities for its members. With this capacity, the teaching profession now has the credentials to run its own infrastructure for professional learning, directed to enhancing and rewarding attainment of professional standards. The emerging system has the potential to overcome major limitations in traditional systems of in-service education for teachers: the lack of clarity about what teachers should get better at; the lack of incentives in the form of advanced career steps based on the attainment of high teaching standards and the low level of personal ownership teachers felt for the in-service education system.