Professional Development

5 Local In-Service Programs Get E.D. ‘Showcase’ Awards

By Jeanne Ponessa — January 15, 1997 4 min read

Responding to widespread calls for improved training for current teachers, the U.S. Department of Education has given its first-ever awards for excellence in professional development to two schools and three school districts.

The National Awards Program for Model Professional Development showcases local programs that have shown improved student learning, reliance on the latest educational research, and the ability to be replicated.

The five winners are the Lawrence, Kan., public schools; Samuel W. Mason Elementary School in Boston; the San Francisco Unified School District; the Wilton, Conn., public schools; and Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Manhattan, Kan. Each will each receive a $9,000 award from a fund created with donations from private foundations.

“Too often, professional development is the first thing that’s cut when the budget is tight,” said Terry K. Dozier, the special adviser on teaching to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.

Ms. Dozier, who oversaw the effort to create the awards, said they serve not only to highlight excellence, “but also to help others make the case that you shouldn’t cut professional development because it really does pay off in the end.”

A five-member panel of experts in professional development chose the winners from a list of finalists. Dennis Sparks, a member of the panel and the executive director of the National Staff Development Council, an Oxford, Ohio-based group, hailed the five programs that won. Each, he said, showed concrete evidence of improvements in student achievement and “leading-edge staff-development practices.”

Wide-Ranging Winners

The winners, chosen from among 129 applicants, range from the 63,800-student San Francisco district to the 273-student Mason Elementary School.

Each of the winners emphasized improvements for students as well as teachers.

“A lot of people are still just giving credit for ‘seat time,’ while our emphasis is on results,” said Sandee Crowther, the division director of evaluation and standards for the 10,000-student Lawrence, Kan., district. “We want to see student progress.”

The district attributes improved test scores at least in part to the smooth running of its 11-year-old professional-development program.

The winning programs were also cited for their unusual approaches to helping teachers manage their time and acquire new skills.

In the 3,300-student Wilton schools in southwestern Connecticut, for example, the district and the teachers’ union renegotiated their contract so that teachers now work a minimum of 40 hours a week rather than 37.5. The change allows for more professional-development time.

“It’s flexible time,” said Joyce Parker, the district’s administrator for elementary curriculum and professional development. Teachers might stay late at a midweek workshop, she said, and compensate for that time by leaving earlier on Friday.

At Samuel W. Mason Elementary School in Boston’s Roxbury section, teachers devote every 10th day to a professional-development project. And all employees at the school must draw up and follow a personal professional-development plan.

Principal Mary L. Russo said the school’s program could easily be used as a model for other schools because it does not call for an infusion of money or handpicked teachers. “It doesn’t rely on lots of extra resources from the district, but relies on the willingness of the faculty to develop and learn new ways of doing things,” she said.

Program’s Evolution

The award program had been in the works for more than a year. More than 60 professional organizations worked with the Education Department to help set up the recognition program. The review process consisted of a first-round review by education experts, site visits to the promising sites by members of the department’s regional laboratories, and a final review by the panel of experts.

A recognition ceremony for the winners has been slated for Feb. 5 in Washington.

Winners’ Circle

Here are the winners of the U.S. Department of Education’s first National Awards Program for Model Professional Development:

  • San Francisco Unified School District--The districtwide program is designed to address individual school needs based on an analysis of student data and desired student achievement.
  • Wilton, Conn., public schools--The district’s plan offers an extended workweek for teachers, giving them more time on a daily basis to learn new skills.
  • Lawrence, Kan., public schools-- A “results based” staff-development program gives credit only for professional-development activities that provide evidence of change in the classroom.
  • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Manhattan, Kan.--The school works with Kansas State University to focus on the teaching of math, science, and technology.
  • Samuel W. Mason Elementary School, Boston--The school’s program requires all staff members, including the principal and the secretaries, to craft personal professional-development plans.
Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Some Kids Had a 'Choppy' K-12 Experience This Year. ISTE Will Explore Solutions
Big themes at this year's online-only ed-tech conference will include acceleration and finding K-12's way in a new, more virtual world.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.
iStock/Getty
Professional Development How to Fix 7 Fatal Flaws in Tech Professional Development
One silver lining of the pandemic is that it forced some districts to rethink their PD priorities and find new ways of training teachers.
8 min read
A team analyses data and tracks progress
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Opinion How Can Coaches Use a Cycle of Inquiry to Establish Themselves and Help Others?
A cycle of inquiry can both help coaches establish themselves and help those they coach develop areas of improvement.
10 min read
shutterstock 546692113
Shuttestock
Professional Development Opinion 'A Professional Learning Community Is Not a Faculty, Grade Level, or Department Meeting'
Three educators wrap-up a four-part series on professional learning communities.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty