Northern Illinois University believes that an essential component of our teacher licensure programs' objective for a richer and fuller experiential educator program involves the deep integration of all parties -- from university faculty to P-12 students -- in order to provide a quality education. The purpose of a partnership relationship is to improve the clinical preparation of beginning teachers, enhance educator professional development, and utilize practice-based research to improve instruction.
Each partnership begins with an agreement that is designated between the university and school districts for the purpose of enhancing teacher preparation through field-based sites for teacher candidates, both clinical and student teaching. In addition, partnerships engage in exchange of ideas and opportunities for professional development. Partnership districts can advance their relationship into a Professional Development School District.
This mission is: To prepare and develop high quality teacher leaders and improve student learning through the shared commitment to a culture characterized by engagement in reciprocal professional development and intentional collaboration across the across the school, university, and community.
We have four major goals for our school-university cooperation, which are the foundation for all experiences that take place under the aegis of the partnerships.
We believe that a PDS site is one in which:
At NIU, we embrace the PDS standards of two national organizations, the National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). To that end, we believe that a PDS is not only a model of excellence but also a model that will ensure the future success of our programs.
Source: NAPDS Home, accessed August 19, 2012.
PDSs are “Specially structured schools in which the P-12 school and higher education faculty collaborate to (1) provide practicum, student teaching, and internship experiences; (2) support and enable the professional development of school and higher education faculty; (3) support and enable inquiry directed at the improvement of practice; and (4) support and enhance student achievement. PDSs require the institutional commitment of colleges and universities, school districts, and teachers' organizations.”
Source: NCATE, accessed 8-17-2011.
At NIU, the PDS relationship between the university and schools is a very selective one, only entered into when both the school (and district) and university are able to engage in the tri-lateral exchange of ideas, practices, and policies to the benefit of all students.
There are several unique characteristics of NIU's PDS relationships:
At NIU we have dedicated significant institutional resources to the pursuit of a model PDS program, including elevating the PDS program to a university-level of support through the office of the Associate Vice Provost of Educator Licensure and Preparation, the hiring of a Associate Director of Professional Development Schools, and committing financial support for materials, technology, professional development, and outreach. In addition to this, the university also provides well in excess of 1,000 hours of tuition vouchers for teachers who participate in the programs through their school or district.