The Penn State University-State College Area School District Professional Development School Partnerships
In 1998 Penn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District began a Professional Development School (PDS) Partnership that included two elementary schools and secondary English. Sixteen years later the PDS Partnership has grown to include every elementary school, both middle schools and English at the high school level. This partnership has been supported enthusiastically by teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, parents, and community members.
From its inception the SCASD-Penn State PDS collaboration has been based on a strong platform of beliefs about the nature of education, teaching and teacher education. One of the fundamental beliefs that undergirds our collaborative efforts is that teaching is a complex, multi-faceted problem-solving activity that requires ongoing question asking and data collection within the classroom in order to understand the impact of educational experiences on students and learning. One of the goals of the partnership is to educate and support teachers who have an inquiry-oriented stance towards their practice, consistently looking to examine their practice and its impact through classroom-based research. This inquiry-orientation is embodied in the teacher inquiry investigations that are conducted by interns, mentors, other veteran teachers, and teacher educators. The Annual Teacher Inquiry Conference provides an opportunity to share inquiry investigations, celebrate accomplishments and generate a community of reflective practitioners.