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Locating Resources on Professional Development Schools
Author: Ismat Abdal-Haqq
In the mid-1980s, professional development schools (PDSs) emerged as a promising approach to simultaneously improving both teacher education and P-12 schooling. PDSs are functioning schools that have three primary missions: (1) maximizing student achievement; (2) providing a rigorous clinical setting for the professional development of preservice and inservice teachers; and (3) developing, testing, and refining effective practices through applied research.
Pioneers in PDS development had little guidance from the education literature; however, information about PDSs is now more abundant and more accessible. Much of this increase can be attributed to the expansion of PDS-related documents and journal articles in the ERIC database from less than 30 at the end of 1990 to more than 200 by March 1996. While ERIC remains the largest source of conventional literature on PDSs, exploring other sources can also be productive. This digest looks at several categories of resources that include PDS-related material. The discussion includes suggestions for more productive ERIC searching, examples of electronic resources, locating fugitive literature, and using information centers.
Searching the ERIC Database
The ERIC database contains abstracts of more than 200 PDS-related resources: research reports, project descriptions, books, journal articles, handbooks, directories, conference papers, and bibliographies. Following a few simple guidelines will enable a searcher to more accurately and completely identify appropriate material.
The ERIC database can be searched on World Wide Web (WWW). However, at present, the Web version of the database only includes records added between 1991 and 1996. Also, searchers often find that they are not able to conduct Internet searches with as much precision and refinement as they can with CD-ROM or on-line versions of ERIC.
Internet and WWW PDS resources are not very plentiful at present, but they are growing in number and offerings. These resources generally fall into two categories interactive structures, which are designed to promote collegial exchange and share information; and reference sites, which supply documents, announcements, and links to other sites.
At least three listservs with a PDS focus have been formed over the past few years. Subscribers pose questions and offer advice to colleagues; announce conferences, new publications, and job openings; and post full-text documents, which can be accessed and downloaded. To subscribe to these listservs, contact each list directly at the e-mail address given below, or request subscription procedures for all the lists from the Clinical Schools Clearinghouse. Topics covered by the first two listservs include all aspects of PDS work while the third focuses on research issues.
World Wide Web Sites
The following WWW sites provide information on professional development schools and are examples of reference sites.
Periodic searches of the WWW, using different search engines, may turn up new Internet resources. In addition, Web sites frequently contain links to related Internet resources.
Locating Fugitive Literature
For a variety of reasons, PDS print and nonprint material may not routinely find its way into the education literature mainstream. For example, a number of PDS partnerships and networks produce newsletters that not only relate the activities of the individuals or institutions that are a part of the network or partnership but may also include thoughtful essays or discussions of recent research. However, the major education and social sciences databases do not routinely abstract and index newsletters; thus, this material does not have the same exposure that exists for published reports, journal articles, or even conference papers. Also, educators who work in PDS settings, particularly school-based educators, sometimes publish articles and papers in regional or state journals or conference proceedings that do not enjoy wide circulation. Newsletters can be a good source of information about such material.
One strategy for locating newsletters, project descriptions, and other material is to approach individual partnerships. To identify partnerships and obtain contact information, begin with a PDS directory. The second edition of Professional Development Schools: A Directory of Projects in the United States (Abdal-Haqq, 1995), published by the Clinical Schools Clearinghouse, contains information on more than 300 PDSs. Approximately 300 partner schools are members of the National Network for Educational Renewal, and contact information can be found in the National Network for Educational Renewal Partner School Directory (Clark, 1995), which is generally revised annually. State networks often publish directories of the PDSs in that state (Gottesman, Graham, & Nogy, 1993; Teitel & DelPrete, 1995). Finally, a number of organizations, information centers, and clearinghouses can provide contact information on local and national PDS partnerships, as well as other resources. A selected list is given below.
References identified with an ED number have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Most documents (ED) are available in microfiche collections at more than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-ERIC.
Abdal-Haqq, I. (1995). Professional development schools: A directory of projects in the United States (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. ED391778
Book, C. L. (1996). Professional development schools. In J. Sikula, T. J. Buttery, & E. Guyton, Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 194-210). New York: Simon & Shuster Macmillan.
Clark, R. W. (1995). National Network for Educational Renewal partner school directory. Seattle: Center for Educational Renewal, University of Washington. ED380417
Gottesman, B., Graham, P., & Nogy, C. (1993). South Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and School Leadership: Professional development schools. Rock Hill, SC: South Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and School Leadership. ED366549
Teitle, L., & Del Prete, T. (1995). Creating professional development school partnerships. A resource guide. Boston: Massachusetts Field Center for Teaching and Learning. ED387460
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