What do we want to know?
The objective of this systematic rapid evidence assessment is to determine the impact of Professional Development Schools (PDSs) on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in the United States. Professional Development Schools are a model of a school-university partnership that has been advocated by reformers as a way to remedy structural issues within ITE.
Who wants to know and why?
Education policy makers, university academics, and university administrators would all be interested to know about the effects of PDS. Teachers in the United States have been shown to be the largest in-school factor that can affect student achievement (one study claimed they could account for 8.5% of the variance in student achievement levels). While reforms targeted specifically at the education system cannot address socioeconomic barriers to educational attainment, education policy can affect ITE. It is argued that with a more robust system of ITE, teachers would be better prepared to enter the classroom, potentially affecting an increase in their students’ achievement.
What did we find?
At least one meta-analysis was conducted for five different teacher preparedness measurements: Interaction with Diverse Students in Urban Environments, Self-Efficacy, Reflective Educator, Classroom Management and Organization, and Lesson Planning. All pooled effect sizes were positive, although some did turn out insignificant. Qualitative data was added where available, most of which showed support for Professional Development Schools. Overall, there was not a single determination that could be made about the effects of Professional Development Schools, and results were broken down by the individual categories previously mentioned.
While an overall determination could not be made, there were some positive effects of PDS training in specific categories which have implications for ITE and future educational research.
What are the implications?
The study displayed positive effects in Classroom Management and Organization, Self-Efficacy, and in one of two meta-analyses for Urban Environments and Diversity. This suggests that, at the very least, ITE students who attended a PDS programme feel more prepared when entering a classroom. Because a key feature of PDS programmes is that they provide a longer clinical field experience, these results indicate there may be positive effects when longer and more in-depth training, contrary to many who would advocate for shortened, alternative programmes for ITE. While specific implications and policy possibilities are discussed, these results provide a basis for discussing future policy changes.
There are also implications for educational research. Noticeably, the lack of common terminology with common definition may make educational research difficult to understand. Seeking clarity of terms and finding agreed-upon definitions (e.g., what exactly counts as “Lesson Planning” and what is the best way to measure one’s ability at that?) is something educational researchers should strive to do. A dependence on self-reported measures may also cause problems when conducting research, as the gathered measures may be biased. These issues are discussed in more depth in the paper.
How did we get these results?
Using various search strings set with keywords and phrases the ERIC (ProQuest) database, accessed through the UCL Institute of Education Library Services was searched. After several attempts with an unmanageable number of articles returned, a simplified search string of “professional development school” AND student was used, and returned 143 articles. In addition, filters for “scholarly journal” and “peer-reviewed” were also used. There was no date limitation on the final search. Studies needed to report the impacts of PDS ITE sites compared with more traditional ITE programmes. Articles that did not include such a comparison were discarded. No specific study design was initially sought, and the sub-categories were developed at a later stage, once all articles and measurements within them were recorded in an excel file. All studies were published in English.
Ultimately, there were 10 studies that fit the necessary criteria, eight of which had useful quantitative measurements. The quantitative measurements were recorded in the excel file, and predominant themes found were developed into the separate sub-categories. Each quantitative measurement relevant to a sub-category was included in a sub-category-specific meta-analysis, using the MetaLight software programme. Any non-quantitative data that was determined useful was used to augment the sub-category’s analysis. This study considers the outcomes to be the determined effect (through meta-analysis effect size and additional non-quantitative research) of PDS site programmes when compared to more traditional ITE programmes.
This report should be cited as:
Kaczmarek, S. (2017). The effects of professional development schools in Initial Teacher Education: a review of the evidence. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.