Date of this Version
Published in Professional Development Schools and Social Justice: Schools and Universities Partnering to Make a Difference, ed. Kristien Zenkov, Diane Corrigan, Ronald S. Beebe, & Corey R. Sell (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013), pp. 243–261.
The examples and data shared in this chapter provide evidence that our comprehensive mission to understand and impact issues of social justice and equity within education is being achieved as the PDS Partnership continues to improve K-16 teaching and learning and enhance the teaching profession across all levels of education. The major implication of our findings is that systemic reform is achievable and the outcomes can be exceptionally rewarding. Of course, such initiatives require time, continuous effort, resources, broad-based participation of all stakeholders, and a sense of need for change. Developing human capital across the educational continuum requires a commitment to providing both support (professional development) and pressure (accountability) for all participants.
Individual action plans (see appendix 1), documentation logs, and peer collaborative mentoring feedback reports indicate that participants at all levels of the educational system implemented new, effective, and equitable teaching strategies when provided with support and pressure to do so. Early partnership efforts to encourage faculty to embrace an equity agenda. in the late 1990s, fell short due to a lack of accountability. When given the opportunity to choose improvement strategies, faculty members tended to implement general teaching strategies that did not require them to step out of their comfort zones (e.g., using wait time or a "ticket out" strategy). Later partnership efforts, starting in 2004, placed emphasis on increasing the learning outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students, requiring participants to complete individual action plans annually. Participants used these action plans to identify and report on specific equitable teaching strategies they were implementing in their courses. These plans were then reviewed and assessed bi-annually to track progress towards meeting identified goals.
The data we have considered here indicate that within this model of support and pressure, the partnership provided continuous professional development and collaboration, giving PDS participants the tools and support they need to effect change. At the same time, participants were held accountable for implementing and reporting on the new strategies and resulting impacts. This accountability augmented their increased awareness of the need for change, which led participants to invest the time and effort needed and to assume ownership of reform initiatives.
Ultimately, the PDS model served as an ideal vehicle to implement systemic change to ensure a more just and equitable education system, across the K- 12 through college continuum. The highly collaborative nature of effective PDS partnerships allowed for powerful relationships to develop and authentic learning to occur. Once partners established a collective vision to address issues of inequality within their schools and teacher education programs, there were endless opportunities to utilize the expertise across the partnership and to leverage the momentum built as participants realized the impact of their actions.