The NCATE Standards for Professional Development Schools (PDSs) as endorsed by the Standards Committee, March 2001 define PDSs as innovative institutions formed through partnerships between professional education programs and P-12 schools. The mission of these partnerships is professional preparation of candidates, faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice, and enhanced student learning.
Why are Standards for Professional Development Schools Important?
These standards were developed for several reasons. First, NCATE recognizes that PDS partnerships have the potential power to support continuous improvement in both schools and universities. The proliferation of school/university partnerships over the last several years has been, at the same time, heartening and disquieting. It is heartening because so many educators have recognized the potential of these innovative partnerships; it is disquieting because many PDS partnerships are such in name only. PDS standards, therefore, are intended to bring rigor to the concept of PDSs, so that its potential will not be lost.
Second, the standards are meant to support PDS partnerships as they develop. For this reason, the standards are accompanied by developmental guidelines meant to assist PDS partners as they move from one stage of development to the next stage. An important use of the standards is for developing leadership within the partnership itself.
Third, the standards and developmental guidelines are designed to be used in an assessment process, to provide feedback to PDS partners about their work. A visit process, closely aligned to the standards, has been developed and field-tested. There now exists a cadre of trained and experienced “visitors” who can conduct this assessment.
Fourth, policy makers at the national, state and local levels who want to create incentives and supports for PDSs may also use the standards, which provide guidance about what is of most importance in these partnerships. The standards can help link PDSs to the teacher quality agenda.
Finally, the standards can provide a critical framework for conducting and evaluating research that addresses the question of what outcomes are associated with PDS partnerships. Up until now such research lacked a commonly agreed upon set of conditions that could be used to define the setting and relate one study to another.
(NCATE Standards for Professional Development Schools, 2001)