series of disjointed, incremental reforms. For example, a PDS offers to preservice and novice teachers systematic field experiences within realistically complex learning environments. By integrating content and pedagogy in an atmosphere of relevance for their studies, these experiences become a unifying feature of education for student teachers.

Currently, there are over 600 reported examples of partnerships between universities and school districts involving the PDS approach to educational reform (Abdal-Haqq, 1998).2 Many more such programs may exist that are unreported or that employ some, but not all, of the principles of the PDS movement.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PDS AND SIMILAR COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS IN IMPROVING STUDENT LEARNING

Although the PDS movement is still relatively young, the research literature on Professional Development Schools is beginning to document the impact of high quality, focused professional development experiences for teachers on schools and students. Some encouraging examples of cases where this connection does seem to be in effect have now been reported (e.g., reviews by Abdal-Haqq, 1998; Byrd and McIntyre, 1999). For example, in 1996, Trachtman conducted a survey of 28 “highly developed” PDS sites for the Professional Development Schools Standards Project.3 Sixty-five percent of the responding sites indicated that preservice teachers affiliated with the sites in the PDS context spent more time in field-related experiences than teachers who were enrolled in more traditional teacher education programs. In PDS arrangements, preservice teachers usually are assigned to a teaching site in cohorts, a desirable practice according to other research. These cohorts work with school-based teams of teachers. Teacher teams have a variety of functions, including curriculum development, action research, creating performance assessments, and university teaching. These preservice teachers also assume building-wide responsibilities and other roles beyond their own classroom settings, thereby providing time for practicing teachers in the school to engage in other kinds of professional work.

According to a previous study by Houston et al. (1999), at more than 80

2  

In a presentation to the CSMTP in 1999, Abdal-Haqq reported that the number of PDS schools has risen to more than 1,000.

3  

Additional information about this project is available at <http://www.ncate.org/accred/projects/pds/m-pds.htm>.



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