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workshops, networking opportunities, internships, and mentoring relationships. More coherence is sorely needed.
[See System Standards A and B]
Professional development programs and practices require a focus on the vision of science education presented by the Standards. Attention must be paid at the state, district, and college and school levels to fitting the various pieces of professional development programs together to achieve a common set of goals. Preservice program coordination requires mechanisms and strategies for connecting and integrating science courses, pedagogy courses, and clinical experiences (i.e., experiences in schools and classrooms). Such coordination also is needed for programs for practicing teachers, who often face myriad offerings by school districts, individual schools, professional associations, unions, business and industry, regional service centers, publishing companies, local universities, nearby research laboratories, museums, and federal and state agencies.
Professional development opportunities for teachers must account for differing degrees and forms of expertise represented in any group, and they must recognize the nature of quality experiences as described in standards A and B. Programs must be designed not just to impart technical skills, but to deepen and enrich understanding and ability. Professional development activities must extend over long periods and include a range of strategies to provide opportunities for teachers to refine their knowledge, understanding, and abilities continually.
Individual teachers of science should have the opportunity to put together programs for professional development, as should groups of teachers, whether formally constituted or informally connected through common needs and interests. The many providers of teacher professional development activities will continue to design programs. However, the strongest programs result from collaborations among teachers, developers (such as university faculty, science coordinators, and teachers), and other stakeholders (including community agencies, science-rich centers, scientists, school administrators, and business and industry). Such collaborations increase coherence, and they bring a wide variety of expertise and resources to bear on a set of common goals that are directly connected to the needs of teachers.
The success of professional development for practicing teachers is heavily dependent on the organizational dynamics of schooling, such as a climate that permits change and risk-taking, good relationships among school personnel, communication structures, and an appropriate distribution of authority. Professional development programs therefore must involve administrators and other school staff. All must be committed to ensuring that prospective teachers, new teachers, and practicing teachers who wish to implement new ideas as part of their professional development are supported and integrated into the ongoing life of the school.
Finally, those who plan and conduct professional development programs must continually evaluate the attainments of teachers and the opportunities provided them to ensure that their programs are maximally useful for teachers.
Marking the culmination of a three-year, multiphase process, on April 10th, 2013, a 26-state consortium released the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school.