teachers, students, and college and university faculty create new knowledge about effective teaching and experiment with, evaluate, and revise teaching practices.
Like student learning, teacher learning and professional development are part of an extremely long and complex process. Thus, a PDS encourages educators to restructure teacher education comprehensively, as opposed to incrementally and in a series of disjointed reforms. The PDS provides more systematic teaching experiences for preservice and novice teachers, where content and pedagogy are integrated and where teacher education takes place in environments that more closely resemble the classrooms in which these future teachers will work. At present, there are more than 1,000 PDS models in the United States, with some institutions of higher education exploring several different models. Examples of such partnerships are provided in Appendix E of the report.
The committee has concluded that when the partners in these kinds of collaboratives establish mechanisms for making decisions that are mutually supportive and collegial and when they invest the time and money needed to sustain the partnership, they can improve the quality of teacher education and teaching in general. The committee’s vision to improve teacher education that builds on the PDS approach is detailed in Chapter 6. Specific recommendations to various stake-holder communities are provided in Chapter 7.
After examining what is known about the effectiveness of the PDS approach, the committee concluded that the entire professional community’s2 level of commitment to and input in both individual schools and districts can have significant effects on student achievement. Systemic support from the larger community in which a school is located also can make a critical difference in the success of teachers and their students (Smith and O’Day, 1991). This larger community includes policymakers, superintendents, district administrators, teacher unions, faculty and administra-
The professional community includes all individuals and organizations that should be responsible for preparing, providing professional development for, and supporting teachers throughout their careers. Recent efforts to improve teacher education and professionalism must involve members of the K-12, higher education (including both two- and four-year colleges and universities), and business and industry communities.