Propelling Professional Development Schools Forward: Collaborative Relationships to Revise Teacher Education Programs and Assessment Structures

Propelling Professional Development Schools Forward: Collaborative Relationships to Revise Teacher Education Programs and Assessment Structures

Cynthia Benton (SUNY – Cortland, USA) and Stephanie Falls (Homer Intermediate School, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3132-6.ch014
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Abstract

This program study used faculty, administrator and teacher candidate participant interviews to examine expanded field experiences and action research effects on a Professional Development School (PDS) partnership. Specifically, the roles and relationships between public school and higher education members were examined in light of the effectiveness of the program and teacher candidate performance. Implications for higher education practices in PDS development, program design, faculty development and student learning are described. The PDS model has been embraced as a means to collaboratively develop teacher education programs that benefit student learning as well as to effectively meet licensure and academic requirements.
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Program Development And Assessment In Teacher Education

The assessment of teacher education programs has been a focus of education policy and fodder for public criticism in recent years. Teacher education innovations have historically focused on student teachers, notably the student teacher/cooperating teacher/college supervisor triad. Throughout the 20th century, teacher education increasingly expanded field experiences and assessments which were solely focused on the student teacher as a candidate and recipient of instruction (Allen, Perl, Goodson & Sprouse, 2014). It became clear that this model had limited usefulness as a way to introduce new teachers to the profession. The Professional Development School (PDS) model was initiated in the late 1990s at Kansas State University by a consortium of public school teachers, administrators and faculty (Allen et al., 2014). The defining feature of the program was its focus on K-12 student learning, rather than on teacher candidate experiences.

The PDS is characterized as a network of stakeholders engaged simultaneously in a growth process. Classroom teachers, preservice teachers and university supervisors interact frequently and collaborate to deepen their understanding of teaching and learning (Allen et al., 2014). The PDS approach to supervision and support of the student teacher includes implementation of co-teaching opportunities between the cooperating teacher and the preservice teacher, who most often share instructional duties. This model is also distinguished by an emphasis on shared professional responsibility for supporting the preservice teacher and assessments geared toward improving education for K-12 students (Allen et al., 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Professional Development School Philosophy: Professional Development Schools are designed to improve student learning. The preparation of teacher candidates, professional development for practicing teachers, and research in the PDS all focus on benefits to students. That is, students benefit academically because the resources of both the school and the university are focused on meeting their needs, specifically benefiting from teacher interns, mentor teachers, and university faculty who play active roles in the PDS setting. The PDS philosophy serves as a model for the broader community, demonstrating how collegiality, inquiry and accountability can benefit all students.

Professional Development School Partnership (PDS): An innovative and expanding collaboration between professional education programs and P-12 schools which provides for the preparation of new teachers, faculty development, inquiry research focused on the improvement of teaching practice, and enhanced student learning. The functions of the PDS reflect an integrated approach to accomplishing goals, with all members jointly responsible for development, implementation and evaluation of learning. PDS partnerships can lead to changes in policy and practice within the partnering institutions.

Program Evaluation: The process of assessing the features of a program, specifically a teacher education program or K-12 educational program which happens cyclically for accredited institutions. PDSs have a unique role in program evaluation because they are committed to implementing high standards for professionals, curriculum content standards, student learning standards and institutional standards for schools and universities. Because the work is inquiry-based and focused on improving teaching and learning for candidates, professionals, and students, PDS partnerships generate new knowledge that is relevant to both universities and schools.

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP): CAEP Standards define the expected quality of a teacher education organization’s performance and serve as the basis for accreditation reviews and decisions.

Students: Children in K-12 classrooms learning from a classroom teacher and teacher candidate.

Collaborative Professional Development: A distinct feature of Professional Development School Partnerships, the assumption that the structures created among the partnering institutions promote mutual collaboration among PDS partners, within the partnering institutions, and among the extended learning communities. Long-term shifts of culture and norms become part of the partner institutions, including roles and mutual expectations and commitments of participants to pursue collaboration.

Field Experiences: The set of placements designed by a teacher training institution which provide school site-based required hours of experience, exposure, observation events and supported initial teaching responsibilities leading to evaluation of independent teaching skills.

Learning Community: This term reflects the unique environment created in a PDS partnership, in which members are equally invested in supporting both professionals’ and children’s learning. Learning communities are recognized as places where collaborative work is appreciated, valued and celebrated by all partner members.

Residency Teacher Training Program: Residency teacher training programs are designed to serve the school district and provide effective training programs that pair a rigorous, community-based, full-year classroom apprenticeship with masters-level education content. Originally designed around a medical Residency Model, teacher preparation programs provide residents with both the underlying theory of effective teaching and a year-long, in-school “residency” in which they practice and hone their skills and knowledge alongside effective teacher mentors in a high-needs classroom. Variations on the Residency Model include using multiple-teacher, co-taught, inclusive classrooms and having candidates experience multiple grade levels throughout the year.

Teacher Candidate: An individual enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate teacher education program leading to licensure.

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