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Professional Development Schools (PDS)

pds Central Cabarrus High School partners with The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Professional Development Schools program. The following information is provided to help students and staff understand more about the opportunities PDS offers. 

 What is a Professional Development School?

Professional development schools (PDSs) are innovative institutions formed through partnerships between professional education programs and P-12 schools. PDS partnerships have a four-fold mission:

  1. the preparation of new teachers,
  2. faculty development,
  3. inquiry directed at the improvement of practice, and
  4. enhanced student achievement.

Professional Development Schools improve both the quality of teaching and student learning. 
PDSs are often compared to teaching hospitals, which are also hybrid institutions created in the early twentieth century. As practicing professions, both teaching and medicine require a sound academic program and intense clinical preparation. The teaching hospital was designed to provide such clinical preparation for medical students and interns; PDSs serve the same function for teacher candidates and in-service faculty. Both settings provide support for professional learning in a real-world setting in which practice takes place. 

Five Defining Characteristics of PDSs 

Standard I : Learning Community-Addresses the unique environment created in a PDS partnership that supports both professional and children's learning. 

Standard II: Accountability and Quality Assurance-Addresses the responsibility of a PDS partnership to uphold professional standards for teaching and learning. 

Standard III : Collaboration-Addresses the development and implementation of a unique university/school community which shares responsibility across institutional boundaries. 

Standard IV : Equity and Diversity- Addresses the responsibility of the PDS partnership to prepare professionals to meet the needs of diverse learners 

Standard V : Structures, Resources and Roles-Addresses the infrastructure that a PDS partnerships uses and/or creates to support its work.

Why are PDSs Important? 

Professional Development Schools are devoted to improving student learning. The preparation of teacher candidates, professional development for practicing teachers, and research helps all students learn. Students benefit because the knowledge, skills, and resources of both university and school are focused on meeting their needs. Students also benefit from teacher interns, mentor teachers, and university faculty who play active roles in the PDS setting. PDSs are extremely important in enhancing teacher quality and student achievement in urban schools with high needs populations. 

PDSs serve as models of good practice for the broader community -demonstrating how collegiality, inquiry, and accountability can benefit students in all schools. Finally, PDSs prepare teachers better. These more qualified teachers go on to teach children in non-PDS schools.