ERIC Identifier: ED316548
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Author: Abdal-Haqq, Ismat
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
The Nature of Professional Development Schools. ERIC Digest
Professional Development Schools can be viewed as both a product of the
current educational reform movement and a means to achieve some of its goals.
Variously known as Professional Development Schools (Holmes Group, 1986),
clinical schools (Carnegie Corp., 1986), and professional-practice schools
(Levine, 1988), these exemplary school sites are seen as key components in
efforts to improve pupil learning by improving teaching.
Although many projects are underway nationwide to establish clinical schools,
it appears that at present there is neither a fully realized Professional
Development School in the country nor a consensus about the mission of such
schools (Olson, 1989). The American Federation of Teachers has published a
monograph on professional practice schools which includes a conceptual model and
discusses noteworthy projects that exist (Levine, 1988). Rowell (1988) has
identified several essential conditions for successful implementation of
clinical schools: conditions which reflect major adjustments in traditional ways
of viewing teaching, teachers, and teacher education.
Three major purposes have been proposed for
Professional Development Schools: (1) to improve education of prospective and
practicing teachers; (2) to strengthen knowledge and practice in teaching; and
(3) to strengthen the profession of teaching by serving as models of promising
and productive structural relations between teachers and administrators (Sedlak,
These schools are designed to be outstanding public schools, cooperatively
established and maintained by schools of education and selected school districts
(Carnegie Corp., 1986; Holmes Group, 1986). They are "real world" schools which
include pupils from various backgrounds. They are jointly staffed by outstanding
professional teachers and university faculty to provide appropriate environments
for clinical instruction and professional socialization of new and veteran
teachers (Holmes Group, 1986).
As an "induction school" for new teachers (Levine, 1988), the function of
Professional Development Schools is frequently compared to that of teaching
hospitals in the medical profession (Sedlak, 1987). In one model of teacher
education, the Carnegie report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st
Century, proposes that the professional component of teacher preparation, as
with other professions, takes place at the graduate level, with the second year
of the Masters in Teaching program consisting of a "residency" at a clinical
school (Carnegie Corp., 1986). Just as practicing physicians provide much of the
clinical instruction in teaching hospitals, both the Carnegie report and the
Holmes Group report, Tomorrow's Teachers, propose that outstanding practicing
teachers (Lead Teachers and Career Professionals, respectively) be included in
the core instructional faculty assigned to Professional Development Schools.
This practice would be in keeping with one of the goals of Professional
Development Schools--to provide opportunities for teachers and administrators to
influence development of their profession (Sedlak, 1987) through involvement in
initial and continuing teacher education.
One hallmark of Professional Development Schools is collaboration between
university and school personnel. Elementary and secondary schools would connect
with higher education in more direct ways than currently exist (Carnegie Corp.,
1986). These "structured partnerships" would provide opportunities for teachers
and administrators to influence the development of their profession, and for
university faculty to increase the professional relevance of their work through
(1) mutual deliberations on problems with student learning, and their possible
solutions; (2) shared teaching in the university and the schools; (3)
collaborative research on the problems of educational practice; and (4)
cooperative supervision of prospective teachers and administrators (Holmes
In addition to its training role, the Professional Development School would
serve to strengthen knowledge and practice in schools by providing exemplary
sites for research, experimentation, inquiry, evaluation, and eventual
dissemination of innovative programs and effective practices. They would
contribute to the "ongoing refinement and codification of successful teaching
and schooling" (Holmes Group, 1986), thus adding to the knowledge base for
teaching. These schools would be "actual demonstration sites where recent
scholarship could be consistently reviewed and selectively incorporated into
operating policy and practices" (Holmes Group, 1986).
A third goal of Professional Development Schools is strengthening the
profession by serving as models of promising and productive structural relations
among school personnel. New patterns of decision making and shared authority
between teachers and administrators can be tested. In this way PDS can
contribute to ongoing efforts to restructure schools to facilitate pupil
learning by utilizing the expertise of practicing teachers (Holmes Group, 1986).
Additionally, these schools are seen as contributors to the
professionalization of teaching. "With respect to professionalization,
professional practice schools can have the same impact on teaching that teaching
hospitals had on medicine. They can become the institutional base of authority
for the profession. The requirements of a profession include the identification
of a systematic knowledge base, the presence of a collegial structure, a
standard of ethics to guide practice, and a systematic induction into the
profession. The professional practice school can provide institutional support
for these professional requirements" (Levine, 1988).
Although the concept of Professional Development
Schools has been generally well received, some concerns have been voiced. Cuban
(1987) questions the appropriateness of the medical education comparison, the
analogue of the teaching hospital. His concern appears to be that the compulsory
nature of public schooling places certain restrictions on the Professional
Development School's freedom to experiment and innovate-restrictions that do not
apply to teaching hospitals and that have been insufficiently acknowledged by
Pinar (1989) is cautious about some collaborative aspects of Professional
Development Schools. "Closer links to the schools ought not be viewed
uncritically. The powerful press of daily life in the school can function as a
kind of 'black hole' into which theory disappears. Survival can come to mean
coinciding uncritically with situations as they are...While we are friends with
our colleagues in the schools--they are our former students--we must maintain a
respectful distance from them. We cannot advise or educate those with whom we
have thoroughly identified. For teacher educators, the school must remain an
object of study as well as a site for success."
Finally, even some supporters of Professional Development Schools acknowledge
that unrealistic expectations may overburden these schools. "...Some worry that
asking schools to simultaneously prepare new teachers, reinvigorate teaching
veterans, engage in research, and undertake widespread school improvement
efforts may be asking too much" (Olson, 1989).
Space requirements limit the number of
references which can be cited in ERIC Digests. Most of the following
references--those identified with an ED or EJ number--have been abstracted and
are in the ERIC data base. The journal articles should be available at most
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information on submitting documents to ERIC, contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036, (202)
Carnegie Corporation of New York. (1986) A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the
21st Century. New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York. ED 268 120.
Cuban, Larry. (1987, Spring) The Holmes Group report: Why reach exceeds
grasp. Teachers College Record, 88(3) 348-53. EJ 350 136.
Holmes Group, Inc. (1986) Tomorrow's Teacher: A Report of the Holmes Group.
East Lansing, MI: The Holmes Group, Inc. ED 270 454.
Levine, Marsha. (1988, November) Professional Practice Schools: Building a
Model. Washington, DC: Center for Restructuring, American Federation of
Teachers. SP 031 702 Note: This document is in process in the ERIC System and
will eventually be assigned an ED number.
Olson, Lynn. (1989, April 12) 'Clinical schools': Theory meets practice on
the training ground. Education Week, 8(20) 1;24.
Pinar, William F. (1989, January-February) A reconceptualization of teacher
education. Journal of Teacher Education, 20(1) 9-12.*
Rowell, C. Glennon. (1988, Fall) Proposed new linkages/relationships to
improve teacher education: Old wine in bottles? Action in Teacher Education,
10(3) 50-55.* EJ 389 904.
Sedlak, Michael W. (1987, Spring) Tomorrow's teachers: The essential
arguments of the Holmes Group report. Teachers College Record, 88(3) 314-25. EJ