teacher preparation programs (Parmalee Hawk, personal communication). In addition, these kinds of programs also influence student performance on standardized tests. On the North Carolina state-mandated test of comprehension skills, “PDS schools performed better than most other schools in the district and were above average for the state as a whole. Minimal skill scores for the middle-school students were higher than they had ever been, and mathematics scores for third and fifth graders also improved (Apple, 1997).
In Maryland, state law requires all teacher education candidates to spend a full-year interning in a PDS. The University of Maryland (UMD) is actively engaged in Professional Development Schools in the state, and while a study has yet to be conducted regarding efficacy, anecdotally, school superintendents and participating teachers have indicated that the program makes a positive difference (Martin Johnson, 2000, personal correspondence). In UMD Professional Development Schools, clusters of schools act as the K-12 partners; i.e., five or six elementary or five or six secondary and middle schools “held together by the concept of reform and renewal.”
Traditionally, most districts and states have expected teachers in the elementary grades to be generalists. Despite the accumulating evidence cited throughout this report that teachers need a deep knowledge and understanding of science and mathematics to teach these subjects effectively at any grade, education programs for people who teach in the primary grades typically emphasize and reinforce the notion of elementary teachers as non-specialists. Even in states that now require prospective elementary school teachers to major in a discipline other than education, few opt for majors in science or mathematics. Many reports have suggested, however, that teachers of all grade levels must understand deeply the subject matter that they teach and use this knowledge to teach what is appropriate to students at different grade levels (pedagogical content knowledge) if they are to be effective in the classroom (Shulman, 1987).
The idea that subject area specialists might be needed in elementary schools is not new. Following the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983),