Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

A Dynamic Relationship: The Impact of Formal and Informal Assessment on a Professional Development School for In-Service Non-Credentialed Teachers

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

A Dynamic Relationship: The Impact of Formal and Informal Assessment on a Professional Development School for In-Service Non-Credentialed Teachers

Article excerpt


Over the past decade many university-based teacher education programs and school districts have forged partnerships creating restructured, collaborative programs aimed at improving teaching and learning for credential candidates (CCs), as well as the children that they serve (Abdal-Haqq, 1998). According to data from the California Department of Education (, progress is being made in raising the percentage of fully certificated teachers teaching in urban schools; however, it is unknown whether this progress will be sustained or if it is a short-term spike. Keeping credentialed teachers remains a challenge as many leave the inner city or the teaching profession within their first five years of teaching.

The intention of this article is twofold: (1) to provide both a description of an innovative, alternative teacher preparation program that was designed to address this challenge, and (2) to analyze how the assessment process was integral to its success. Our analysis will focus on how both formal and informal evaluation procedures produced a dynamic and beneficial relationship between the assessment process and implementation. The innovation that is the focus of this article is the Local District G Professional Development School, (Local District G is one of eleven local mini-districts in the larger Los Angeles Unified School District). (1) It is the product of a three-way partnership between the nation's second largest school district, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD); a large comprehensive public university, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH); and a non-profit public education fund, Los Angeles Educational Partnership (LAEP).

Most professional development schools (PDSs) prepare student teachers in exemplary schools with collaboration and support from the school and university (Lawrence & Dubetz, 2001; Paese, 2001). However, because of the enormous challenges all of the elementary schools in Local District G face and because of their need to develop stable and credentialed teaching staffs, this PDS encourages participation from all of the schools in the local district. This PDS is unique because it is designed to positively impact non-credentialed university teacher education students who are already teaching with full classroom responsibilities. With the goal of accelerating the acquisition of needed teaching skills, precepts of the PDS model are applied in order to explore and develop the best methods of teacher preparation. The intended outcomes are that the participants will earn their Preliminary California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential in one year, and they will also have the skills and inclinations to be successful teachers and coaches in Local District G for many years to come. Before describing this model, it is necessary to understand why it was necessary to design this innovative program.

Setting the Context: The Problem That Is Being Addressed

There is tremendous public concern about the very low standardized test scores in LAUSD (see Although test scores are beginning to increase, historically seventy-five percent of the entire district's third graders score below the 50th National Percentile Rank, NPR, in reading on the Stanford 9 test. Fifty percent score in the bottom quartile. The scores in District G are some of the lowest in LAUSD. Social-economic and cultural issues powerfully impact student achievement (Nieto, 2004), making teaching in these settings enormously challenging. In Local District G virtually all of the children live in poverty or extreme poverty. Another factor accounting for the low test scores in LAUSD is the fact that for many of the children, English is not their primary language. In LAUSD, approximately 45% of the 720,000 K-12 students are listed as English Language Learners. Although Spanish is the primary language for 93% of these students, the California Office of Education lists a total of 54 different home languages in the entire school district. …

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