Teacher Preparation

Model Districts Embed Professional-Development Schools in Systems

By Bess Keller — October 01, 2004 3 min read

The nation’s leading group for accreditation of teacher education has an idea for urban superintendents looking for ways to get and keep the best teachers and perhaps help the ones they already have: Dot their districts with schools designed to train teachers as well as teach students.

The idea is not new, but three districts—Denver; Duval County, Fla.; and Waco, Texas—have been working for the past year on expanding the number of such schools in their systems, thanks to a project sponsored by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and a $150,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Project organizers say the goal is to bring more teachers into the profession through experience in “professional-development schools,” much as doctors train at teaching hospitals.

Proponents of professional-development-school networks say they stand a good chance of closing the “teacher gap” for districts largely serving poor and minority children, which have trouble attracting and keeping the skilled teachers they need.

“The existing system too often gives them teachers not yet ready for prime time,” NCATE President Arthur E. Wise said at a press briefing here last week. “This is the most promising strategy we have for … improving student achievement” in such districts.

Three Visions

Too often, professional development schools have been isolated from others in the district and haven’t been a top priority of district administrations, said Marsha Levine, who led the project for NCATE. But the three model districts have laid plans for overcoming those problems and putting the schools at the forefront of efforts to raise achievement.

In Waco, the smallest of the three districts, with 16,000 students, Baylor University joined with the district and the local teachers’ union to add nine professional-development schools in the past 18 months to the single existing one. As a result of the expansion, aspiring teachers at Baylor routinely spend time in one of those schools each year of their college careers. Those experiences culminate in a yearlong internship when they are seniors. The university and the district divide the cost, about $450,000 a year.

The planning team in the 72,000-student Denver system focused on rookie teachers in the 35-school subdistrict with the lowest student achievement and the most teacher turnover. Eleven schools are to be structured to provide professional development under the auspices of the University of Colorado at Denver, and every new teacher hire in the subdistrict must teach in one of those schools her first year. Some of the rookies would then disperse to other schools in the subdistrict, but continue to get support from their professional-development schools. The regular schools would pitch in part of their budgets to make the operation possible.

Florida’s Duval County district, which includes Jacksonville, and its main university partner, the University of North Florida, decided to use professional-development schools to raise the number of high-quality teachers at levels and in subjects where the district has traditionally had trouble meeting its needs.

One aspect of the plan calls for “inquiry science center” schools that would help train students who want to be science teachers and improve the skills of teachers of that subject already in the classroom. Any teacher in the 128,000-student district could observe classrooms in the centers.

While a network of professional-development schools does not come cheap, Ms. Levine said, it would produce savings by reducing the costs of turnover. Teachers who learn how to be effective in an urban environment and get support for their work are much more likely to stay put, according to Ms. Levine and Mr. Wise.

Related Tags:

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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 Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
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
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Teacher Preparation You Have Anti-Racist Curriculum Resources. Now What Do You Do?
Teachers need spaces to explore how power dynamics have shaped the subjects they teach, explains Sarah Schwartz.
4 min read
v40 6BI CG IMG
Illustration by Jamiel Law
Teacher Preparation Opinion Before We Can Have Anti-Racist Classrooms, Teacher Preparation Needs an Overhaul
My knowledge of African American history did not come from school, writes Keziah Ridgeway. Why was that?
Keziah Ridgeway
3 min read
v40 6BI MW IMG
Illustration by Jamiel Law
Teacher Preparation We All Live Racialized Lives: The 'Identity Work' Teachers Need to Do
Understanding the Black experience also means seeing white privilege, writes education professor LaGarrett King.
3 min read
v40 6BI CG IMG
Illustration by Jamiel Law
Teacher Preparation Don't Rush to 'Diagnose' Learning Loss With a Formal Test. Do This Instead
Beware these danger zones when trying to determine what students know and need to learn this fall, experts say.
9 min read
Assess IMG article
Getty + Laura Baker/Education Week