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College of Education - Professional Development Schools

Professional Development Schools

What are Professional Development Schools?
Professional Development Schools (PDS) are innovative institutions formed through partnerships between colleges of schools of education and P-12 schools. Their mission is professional preparation of teacher candidates, faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice, and enhanced student learning (NCATE: Standards for Professional Development Schools). These schools are more than sites for field placements for teacher candidates. A PDS is an environment in which university students, faculty liaisons, classroom teachers, and students in the schools can engage in long-term, on-going research-based initiatives that benefit all members in the learning community. In 2008, the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS), identified the essential working components of effective PDSs.

The nine required essentials of a PDS:

  1. A comprehensive mission that is broader in its outreach and scope than the mission of any partner and that furthers the education profession and its responsibility to advance equity within schools and, by potential extension, the broader community;
  2. A school–university culture committed to the preparation of future educators that embraces their active engagement in the school community;
  3. Ongoing and reciprocal professional development for all participants guided by need;
  4. A shared commitment to innovative and reflective practice by all participants;
  5. Engagement in and public sharing of the results of deliberate investigations of practice by respective participants;
  6. An articulation agreement developed by the respective participants delineating the roles and responsibilities of all involved;
  7. A structure that allows all participants a forum for ongoing governance, reflection, and collaboration;
  8. Work by college/university faculty and P–12 faculty in formal roles across institutional settings; and
  9. Dedicated and shared resources and formal rewards and recognition structures (www.napds.org).

At Rowan, these nine essentials represent practical goals toward which our work as PDSs should be directed.

Why do Professional Development Schools Matter?
Rowan engages in PDS partnerships to reflect our commitment to nurturing and sustaining close connections between P-12 schools and higher education. Our partnerships focus on four cornerstones of teacher preparation and ongoing professional development:

  1. Pre-service: Varied forms of initial teacher preparation, such as clinical practice, field placements, and on-site coursework;
  2. In-service: Multiple opportunities for teachers to engage in continuing professional development by working with university faculty members;
  3. Student Learning: Efforts to increase all students’ learning;
  4. Research: Research into teaching and learning for the purpose of improving both (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2001).

What is the History of PDS at Rowan?
Doctors Marion Rilling and Carol Sharp are responsible for bringing Professional Development Schools to Rowan University. They visited PDS sites that were partnered with Michigan State University in the early 1990s and wanted to implement the program at Rowan. The College of Education began the first PDS partnerships in 1991 at Cooper’s Poynt Family School in Camden, NJ with extensive involvement from Dean Sharp. From 1991 to 2001, additional schools were added to the Rowan PDS Network.

The College of Education was invited by the Holmes Partnership to submit an application for membership when the organization learned of the College’s PDS work. The Holmes Partnership is a national organization of more than 80 universities, schools, community agencies and national professional organizations working in partnership to create high quality professional development and significant school renewal to improve teaching and learning for all children. The College of Education was accepted for membership in 2002, which validates work accomplished by the College in the PDSs as nationally recognized for excellence. PDS partnerships promote scholarship through local and national presentations and publications by Rowan faculty and PDS partners. The Rowan Professional Development School network currently includes five PDSs in Cumberland and Gloucester counties in New Jersey.

The PDS model at Rowan currently involves three South Jersey school districts and offers aspiring elementary and secondary school teachers’ practical learning experiences in real classroom settings.

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