Bellevue Elementary School is one of 23 schools serving elementary students in the Syracuse City School District in Central New York. Approximately 450 Pre-K to fifth grade students attend Bellevue Elementary School, which is located on the southwestern side of the city. Cazenovia College is a small independent, four-year residential college for men and women located in village of Cazenovia, 19 miles southeast of Syracuse, New York in Central New York.
The teacher preparation programs at Cazenovia College [Inclusive Elementary Education (IEE) and Early Childhood Teacher Education (ECTE)] and Bellevue Elementary School in the Syracuse City School District have established a collaborative partnership.
The long-term goals of this partnership are: (a) To improve learning outcomes for all students enrolled at Bellevue Elementary School and the College’s pre-service teacher candidates. (b) To create and sustain an effective link between the pre-service education of teacher candidates and the ongoing in-service professional development of school faculty and staff. (c) To engage Bellevue School teachers, administrators and other professional staff in a formal collaborative effort with college faculty to provide appropriate curriculum, instruction and assessment of Cazenovia College teacher candidates. (d) To implement and sustain the on-site teaching model described in the SED-approved IEE and ECTE program designs. (e) To increase the number of minority teachers in the Syracuse City School District through active recruitment of talented high school students to teacher preparation and exploration of ways to support district employees who wish to earn teacher certification.
Benefits to IHE
The partnership with Bellevue Elementary School provides a consistent environment for teacher preparation that allows all participants to engage in long-term program development, assessment and modification. Staff at the school becomes active participants in teacher preparation, which adds quality and a depth of commitment to preparing and inducting our teacher candidates.
Benefits to the School
Bellevue School benefits from this partnership in a number of ways. Cazenovia College faculty provides a consistent presence in the school and work alongside the teachers and administrators in addressing school-wide needs. The College offers human and material resources to assist the school in meeting its school improvement and other student learning outcomes goals. To achieve these goals, two interrelated structures have been conceptualized. One structure focuses primarily on partnership governance and oversight, and consists of an advisory committee and a steering committee. The other structure focuses primarily on implementing and supporting pre-service and in-service professional development opportunities, and consists of an instructional field team, a cadre of cooperating teachers, and the establishment of a professional development center.
How did it begin?
In the fall of 2001, the college education faculty wrote and received a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to implement a family literacy project at Bellevue School. This project brought families to the school for a series of events to enhance literacy opportunities in their homes. Cazenovia College students participated in planning these sessions and providing literacy experiences for children during the events.
Dr. Stephanie Leeds wrote a number of small grants to the New York State Task Force on Quality Inclusive Schooling to support our partnership work. All have been funded to date and include the following initiatives.
A Partnership Exploration Grant (Summer 2002): This grant enabled the Cazenovia College education faculty to meet with the administrators of Bellevue School to articulate parameters of a formal partnership.
Seed Money for Co-teaching Grant (Summer 2002): This grant provided means for exploring how a collaboration might be developed between a college faculty member and a Bellevue teacher for teaching one of the professional courses in the program.
Co-Teaching Grants (Fall 2002 and Spring 2003): Two such grants were funded and supported preliminary and ongoing planning, implementation and assessment of co-teaching efforts between Mary DeSantis and Colleen Mayberry (two teachers at Bellevue) and Stephanie Leeds at Cazenovia.
A Partnership Enactment Grant (Spring 2003): This grant provided funds to hold a three-half-day workshop with teachers and professional staff at Bellevue School who serve as members of our instructional field team and as cooperating teachers. The focus is to build links between pre-service and in-service education and to strengthen the capacity of Bellevue staff and faculty to teach students at the baccalaureate level and to supervise them in the field. We plan to continue to seek additional grants to support this work as they become available.
The College is currently working with the Syracuse City School District to identify larger funding sources to help establish and equip the proposed professional development center. It is our hope that this center will be operational in the fall 2003 semester.
How is it functioning?
This partnership is best characterized by describing its three ongoing initiatives.
Initiative 1. Developing collaborative instructional field teams consisting of Cazenovia College education faculty and Bellevue administrators and faculty to teach professional courses on the Bellevue campus. The courses currently offered during the two professional semesters include:
ED 312: Inclusive
Primary Curriculum & Methods
ED 375: Collaborative Planning & Assessment
ED 341: Guidance, Discipline, & Classroom Management
ED 388: Student Teaching — Primary Level
ED 412: Inclusive Intermediate Curriculum & Methods
ED 421: Strategies for Teaching Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities
ED 361: Family, School & Community Relations
ED 488: Student Teaching — Intermediate Level
Initiative 2. Developing collaborative instructional field teams consisting of Cazenovia College education faculty and Bellevue administrators and teachers to support the professional growth of teacher candidates and assist cooperating teachers in the supervision of teacher candidates. (Note: Bellevue Faculty and staff who serve as course instructors, co-instructors and cooperating teachers will be conferred adjunct status by Cazenovia College and be compensated appropriately.)
Initiative 3. Increasing the number of minority teachers in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) by actively recruiting talented SCSD high school students through the partnership and by exploring ways to support district employees in their desire to obtain professional licensure by providing professional education courses and courses in the Liberal Arts and Sciences on the Bellevue campus. (Note: Current efforts are underway to form an articulation agreement between OCC and the teacher preparation programs at Cazenovia College. It will also be possible for Cazenovia College to offer professional education courses and courses in the Liberal Arts and Sciences on the Bellevue campus during the regular semesters and the summer semester. Cazenovia College scholarships for talented minority students interested in becoming elementary teachers are being developed.)
Several structures are in place to sustain this partnership. Further, senior administrators of both the college and the school district have been involved in ongoing discussion and planning for the partnership and its growth. The partnership is articulated within program documents, and it is expected to continue as an integral component of teacher preparation at Cazenovia College.
The SUNY Fredonia-Dunkirk City School District Partnership
The Dunkirk City School District is a small urban school district of about 2,200 students located the southern tier of Western New York. The diverse student population consists of approximately 30% Hispanic, 13% African-American students and the remainder is primarily Caucasian students. The State University of New York at Fredonia’s Responsive Educator Program is an undergraduate pre-service teacher general education core based on (a) five highly structured, developmentally sequenced, applied field experiences, (b) a systematic preparation in peer collaboration, (c) a foundation in conceptual framework that emphasizes responsive teaching practice, and (d) direct preparation in evidence-based practices.
Typically, freshman students enter an Instructional Assistants Program that is their initial teaching experience. The students are required to (a) teach a minimum of two lessons, (b) use evidence-based practice in instruction, (c) administer pre- and post-teaching measures, and (d) reflect and adjust teaching practices in response to pupil responses. The next experience is typically for sophomore level pre-service teachers, and these students conduct an after school-tutoring program.
A new feature places Adolescence certification pre-service science education candidates with mentor science teachers. These students (a) investigate 7th-12th grade understanding of the nature of science, (b) use the evidence process to examine 7th-12th student-generated data, and (c) use the observation data to inform their own teaching practice. This program is currently being extended for secondary level pre-service teachers in mathematics and social studies.
Benefits to IHE
The IHE faculty has been provided an opportunity to conduct and publish research [Jabot, Gradel, Mariera, Maheady, & Prendt (2004); Maheady, Harper, Karnes, & Marlette (1999); Maheady, Harper, Mallette, & Karnes (2004); Maheady, Mallette, & Harper (1996); Mallette, Maheady, & Harper (1999)].
Benefits to the School
The Instructional Assistants deliver 5,000+ hours of in-class assistance at four hours per week for eight weeks per tutor each year. Pupil outcomes noted an 84% pupil improvement. The tutors delivered 2,800+ hours of individualized instructional assistance at two hours per week for eight weeks per tutor. Overall there was an increase in fluency in selected students and a high level of satisfaction from district teachers and students.
How did it begin?
This project began with in-class discussion among graduate level candidates at SUNY Fredonia who were also Dunkirk public school teachers. The school was identified by the State of New York as a high-risk district and the Fredonia faculty began with the Instructional Assistant program in 1996.
How is it functioning?
The program continues to grow and expand as indicated. There is district-wide acceptance and cooperation with this program. The IHE faculty is able to use the data collected to support the K-12 impact of their pre-service teachers for National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation. This is arguably the most difficult of the pieces in the NCATE process.
This program leverages resources to meet our needs. These include a New York State Education grant to focus on (a) joint professional development initiatives, (b) use of data to inform instruction and policy, (c) assessment of teacher retention, and (d) practice-based input into pre-service teacher preparation.
Key factors relevant to our partnership: (a) consistent point person, (b) effective induction of new individuals to the program, (c) joint recognition of big ideas and big needs, (d) commitment to responsive practice, and (e) active listening, talking, trying and doing.
This program is self-sustaining because the process is institutionalized in both the IHE and the Dunkirk school district. In other words, the program is not dependent on a few key individuals but has been fully embraced and supported by the IHE and the Dunkirk School District. Individuals who wish to replicate need to work small and have the patience to see the program progress along the needs of both the IHE and the school district as this project did. We identified the areas where we could assist each other and moved along those lines.
The Keshequa Central School District is located in a rural area 40 miles due south of Rochester, New York in upstate New York. The representatives from the University of Rochester, The State University of New York at Geneseo and Nazareth College of Rochester joined together in a consortium of support to partner with the Keshequa Central School District.
The specific purpose of the SIG partnership was to establish a relationship with the 5th grade team of teachers and provide support as needed in their process of analyzing data and exploring the construction of parallel tasks to address student skill deficits in an effort to achieve proficiency in 5th grade.
The long-term goal is by 2007, 80% of all 8th grade students will be achieving performance levels of three and four on the NYS ELA and Math assessments. The short-term goal (which this original SIG partnership was addressing) was by 2003, six of the 28 fifth grade students, previously identified at levels one and two on the 4th grade ELA assessment will increase to the proficient level on the NY State Standards (TONYSS). By 2003, four of the 14 fifth graders previously identified at level one and thirty-two on the 4th grade Math assessments will increase to the proficient level on the TONYSS.
Benefits to IHE
The benefits to the IHE members were to walk-the-walk with teachers as they seek to analyze and change their practice in an effort to raise student test scores. This was really challenging work for the IHE faculty.
Benefits to the School
IHE faculty was available at the ongoing meetings as a resource to the teachers and often stopped and reflected with them on the process they were engaged in. When they became stalled, it seemed that reflections or questions would help them to move on. When they became overwhelmed or confused, again reflection and questions helped to move the process forward. It was the change of practice and the deeper understanding of their student needs that was the real benefit for IHE faculty.
How did it begin?
A SIG agreement was entered into with the Mid-West Consortium of IHEs. The consortium created a team that would work with Keshequa, which included Brockport, Nazareth, the University of Rochester and Geneseo, which had previously worked with Keshequa as a solo IHE agreement. IHE faculty met with the Keshequa teachers on a regular basis and then consulted as specific topics arose. IHE faculty met prior to every task force meeting to review the progress in Keshequa and the IHE relationship with them, prior to sharing an update with the consortium at the regional meeting.
How is it functioning?
The SIG agreement has ended but the relationship with Keshequa continues. IHE faculty recently met with the elementary principal and will be meeting with the district administrative staff to work on visioning and embedding this work within their district-wide professional development model for learning communities. The work is exciting and vibrant and continues to inform IHE practice in inclusive teacher education.
Unique Features (from the district’s perspective)
1. The district and professor have been able to continue an academic relationship over two years that has been of benefit to the professional growth of the faculty and administration. (Previous history had been, that after one year the college person had moved on or had not been available.)
2. The professor was able to adapt to the needs of the district. When it became apparent that the initial project was going to change, the district and higher education representative made accommodations to meet other needs. (This flexibility on the professor’s part has been extremely instrumental in making the second year of collaboration much more meaningful.)
3. A high degree of communication and trust has developed between the two parties. The professor is seen as not only a resource for the district but an educational colleague who is learning from the experience as well as increasing the expertise of the district’s staff.
There is a huge question of sustainability. The district was able to develop the interaction with the IHE person and sustain it for two years because of the availability of SIG funds. The funding is no longer available so there is the real possibility that this will be the last year of this interaction between the two parties.
To be able to replicate this project would depend on: the communication level between the district and IHE representative, the personal connection between the staff and the professor, and a specific focus for the collaboration for both parties.
The Professional Development School Partnership, PDS, is a collaboration between Teachers College, Columbia University, District 3/Region 10 of the New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Currently, there are several departments and programs at Teachers College that participate including: the Department of Curriculum and Teaching — Elementary/Childhood Education Pre-service and Early Childhood programs; the Department of Arts and Humanities — Secondary Social Studies Program, English Education Program, Art Education, Music Education, TESOL; the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology — Secondary Math Education, Secondary Science Education; Department of International and Transcultural Studies — Bilingual Education. The schools in District 3/Region10 include three elementary schools: Public School (PS) 87, PS 165, PS 149 and one high school: The Beacon School.
The original purpose of the partnership is to reinvent the traditional school-university relationship in order to enhance the professional development of future teachers, experienced teachers and college faculty working in urban schools.
The partnership is based on four fundamental beliefs: (1) shared responsibility for the development of pre-service and beginning teachers; (2) the continuing development of experienced teachers and teacher educators; (3) the creation of communities of sustained inquiry; and (4) the research and development of the teaching profession and school reform.
Benefits to IHE
Teachers College places pre-service elementary and secondary students in schools for classroom observations, practicum hours and student teaching. The IHE benefits from these placements because it allows the university students first-hand experience in urban classrooms. It also provides learning environments for pre-service students to implement the practices learned in coursework at the college level.
Practicing teachers serve as clinical faculty members in the Elementary/Childhood Education Pre-service Program. Clinical faculty members participate in all aspects of the program, and it brings the voice of the teacher to the coursework. Clinical faculty members discuss the connections between theory and praxis and offer practical applications to classroom experiences.
Professors and doctoral students have the opportunity to conduct research in the schools. The schools provide sites for data collection on a variety of levels within quantitative and qualitative research. Schools also provide models of teaching where pre-service students have first-hand experiences in schools where teachers are active leaders within the school.
Benefits to the School
The benefits to the individual school are great. For children in the school, there are more adults working with them, which allows for a better teacher-student ratio. Pre-service students often are asked to use their school placement for coursework, which provide cooperating teacher opportunities to keep their own practices innovative in connecting that classroom practice to the theoretical framework of the college. This is also viewed as a form of professional development for experienced teachers.
Schools are frequently looking to hire new staff. With student teachers in the building that have been trained on-site, the schools have a large candidate pool from which to draw as potential new teachers. When schools hire from within, the pre-service students who have been placed at the school, it allows these future first year teachers to be familiar with the school culture, structures and routines.
The following data represents information from Beacon School, PS 87 and PS 165 in various aspects within the PDS partnership. Over the past five years, 51 pre-service teachers have been hired at the schools, and 41 of those teachers are still currently teaching. Eighteen staff members are currently enrolled in coursework or programs at Teachers College. Twenty-five staff members have taught at Teachers College or supervised students on school sites. Over one semester, there may be 16-18 pre-service secondary students placed at Beacon and 22-28 pre-service students placed at PS 87 and PS 165.
When one examines known statistics in the field of education regarding teacher retention in urban settings, the number of new teachers who remain at PDS schools in our partnership is unusually high.
How did it begin?
The PDS partnership began over 15 years ago with one elementary school and one middle school. University faculty, district personnel, school administrators and teachers were on the planning team, and then the partnership was implemented. It also received grant support for planning meetings, release time for staff at both the school and university, funding for an internship program, which was an extended student teaching placement and annual partnership-wide meeting. Over the course of the partnership, two elementary schools and one high school has been added with a total of five schools participating. However, due to changes in school sites and administrative changes, two of the schools in the partnership are currently inactive.
How is it functioning?
An Executive Board governs the PDS Partnership. The Executive Board is comprised of representatives from each school, administrators from each school, university faculty and staff, and district/region representatives. The Executive Board has also hired a director who administers the partnership. The Executive Board acts as a policy making body for the partnership and in an advisory capacity to the director.
At each site, a Steering Committee serves in a similar capacity as the Executive Board but at the local school level. Each school also has a liaison that facilitates communication within the school site as well as across the partnership.
One of the most unique features of the partnership is the opportunity afforded to practicing teachers. Teachers are supported in their own action research and inquiry and then present at local and national conferences including the Holmes Partnership. Teachers are also empowered to make decisions in the partnership and are viewed as teacher leaders. There is a breakdown of hierarchies and partners are viewed as equal contributors. Teachers are also strong collaborators within the various PDS sites.
The PDS partnership is viewed nationally as a “mature” PDS. While it has had its pitfalls, many of those are based on changes in school leadership and personnel changes at the school and college. As a model, the PDS partnership is one that not only has sustained itself for 15 years, but it is a model that can be replicated with serious commitment from all members of a partnership. By using similar structures across partnerships that provide opportunities for professional development for faculty and maintaining strong communication within the partnership, our PDS partnership can serve as a model for school/university relationships that would encourage supporting teachers in urban settings.