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What is a Professional Development School?

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More than twenty years ago many educators advocated the creation of school-university partnerships called “Professional Development Schools” as a strong vehicle for educational change and as new models for teacher education and professional development for all educators (Goodland, 1990; Holmes, 1986; Holmes, 1990; Levine, 1992).  Darling-Hammond (1998) described Professional Development Schools (PDS) as spaces where prospective teacher and mentor teacher learning becomes 1) experimental, 2) grounded in teacher questions, 3) collaborative, 4) connected to and derived from teachers' work with their students, and 5) sustained, intensive, and connected to other aspects of school change.

In the ensuing two decades the Professional Development School movement has flourished in the United States with more than 1000 school university partnerships across the country that refer to themselves as PDS sites.  Two national organizations that focus on professional development school work have also emerged over the last few decades, the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) and the National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS).  Both of these organizations hold annual meetings that are well attended and that support research and inquiry concerning professional development school work.  In addition, the American Educational Research Association has established a special interest group that focuses its attention on research on professional development schools.

The proliferation of professional development school partnerships has led to the formulation of standards that attempt to define the characteristics of high quality professional development school partnerships. The National Association for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) published the first set of standards followed by the “Nine Essentials of Professional Development Schools” published by NAPDS. Using the NAPDS nine essentials, The Penn State-State College Elementary PDS was designated as an Exemplary Professional Development School by NAPDS in 2009. A recent compilation of research on professional development schools published by the National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) indicates that PDS partnerships bring benefits to students, teacher candidates, teachers, principals, university faculty, and communities.

What is a Professional Development School?  Introduction to the Penn State Elementary Education PDS  What is the intern's field experience like? ○ What does the work of a mentor and intern look like in our Professional Development School? ○ What are some of the unique experiences an intern has in a Professional Development School? ○ Why should you consider hiring an intern from the Professional Development Schools?