A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Improving America's Schools: Newsletter on Issues in School Reform - May 1996

Opportunities for Professional Development Sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education

In the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the President and Congress send a clear message that professional development is essential to improving teaching and learning and should not simply be a fringe activity to be pursued as time and resources permit.

Improved teaching and learning take center stage in both the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and the Goals 2000:Educate America Act of 1994. Both pieces of legislation provide new opportunities for upgrading teachers' skills to enable all students to reach high academic standards. The legislation also emphasizes flexible and creative uses of resources. For example, professional development resources can be combined to address school-wide professional development needs as opposed to narrowly-defined needs related specifically to categorical programs, one subject, or one goal. In this vision, U. S. Department of Education programs play a key role in creating professional development opportunities for school staff.

Among the U. S. Department of Education resources that can fund or provide professional development are the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, Title III of Goals 2000, the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers, and the basic program of Title I.

Supporting Professional Development Activities Through ESEA Programs and Goals 2000

(Potential Funding Sources for Professional Development)

Title I: Helping Disadvantaged Children Meet High Standards. Includes the basic program; Even Start family literacy; education of migratory children; and prevention and intervention programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at risk of dropping out of school.

Title II: Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional Development Program

Title III: Technology for Education

Title IV: Safe and Drug-free Schools and Communities: Drug and violence prevention programs

Title V: Promoting Equity: Women's educational equity

Title VI: Innovative Education Program Strategies: Local innovative education programs

Title VII: Bilingual Education: Bilingual education capacity and demonstration grants; research, evaluation, and dissemination; training for all teachers; foreign language assistance

Title IX: Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education: Formula grants to local education agencies; special programs and projects to improve educational opportunities for Indian children; Native Hawaiians; Alaska Native education

Title XI: Coordinated Services

Title XIII: Support and Assistance Programs to Improve Education: Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers, National Diffusion Network

Goals 2000: Educate America Act: Title III, State and local education systemic improvement

Eisenhower Professional Development Program

A major source of federal funding for state and local professional development is Title II of ESEA the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional Development Program.

The Eisenhower Program authorizes support for professional development for teachers in all core academic areas, but emphasizes improving teaching and learning in mathematics and science. To receive Title II funds, however, states are asked to describe their goals in helping teachers receive sustained, high-quality professional development tied to high content standards and their performance indicators and timelines for meeting program goals. The plan must be designed to give teachers and, where appropriate, administrators and pupil services personnel in the state, the knowledge and skills necessary to provide all students the opportunity to meet challenging state content and student performance standards.

State education agencies can use Eisenhower funds for a variety of professional development activities, including:

States can also use Title II funds to review and reform state requirements for teacher and administrator licensing, certification, and recertification, in order to align requirements with content and performance standards.

Local education agencies can use Eisenhower funds for professional development activities that include:

To receive Title II subgrant funds, local education agencies must assess local needs for professional development as identified by the local education agency and school staff. Such needs assessment must be carried out with the involvement of teachers, including teachers in schools receiving assistance under Part A of Title I, and shall take into account what activities need to be conducted in order to give teachers and administrators the means, knowledge, and skills to provide students with the opportunity to meet challenging state or local student performance standards. The plan must include a description of how the plan contributes to the local education agency's overall efforts for school reform and educational improvement.

Kentucky's Effort to Maximize the Use of Eisenhower Professional Development Funds

The Kentucky Department of Education has published and distributed to school districts a resource guide for mathematics and science educators that districts may consider as ways to maximize the use of Eisenhower Professional Development funds. The guide also provides information on the programs' targeted participants, the extent of the training, and sources of additional information.

A popular Eisenhower-funded professional development program is the Activity Centered Elementary Science (ACES) program, selected by over 60 of Kentucky's school districts. This state-developed program uses an activity-centered problem-solving approach that helps students develop skills in life science, earth science, and physical science. Teachers are trained in an initial one-day workshop and receive follow-up support throughout the year. ACES' goals are consistent with the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Goals 2000:Educate America Act

Under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, states can award subgrants to local education agencies for: (1) improving training programs that give teachers and administrators the knowledge and expertise necessary to prepare all students to meet standards; (2) developing and implementing continuing, sustained professional development for teachers and administrators to build their expertise; or (3) offsetting the cost of release time for teachers who participate in professional development.

The Baltimore City Public School district, for example, has combined its Goals 2000 subgrant with school staff development and Title I funds to support the professional development of teachers, administrators, and parents of students at four low-performing elementary schools. Summer institutes, school-year retreats, and on-going study groups will support teachers, administrators, and parents as they work to change instructional practices and boost student achievement on the Maryland School Performance Assessment. In Massachusetts, a consortium of 15 school districts and eight institutions of higher education are using Goals 2000 funds to support teacher leadership teams as they develop and restructure Tech Prep programs.

State educational agencies also can award subgrants to districts in cooperation with institutions of higher education (IHEs) and/or nonprofit organizations to improve preservice teacher education and support sustained professional development. In Utah, for example, a Goals 2000 subgrant supports an elementary teacher preparation program designed to prepare teachers to work in urban schools. Sponsored by the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and nine urban school districts, this preservice program provides special training to prospective teachers over two summers and places them in extended internships in cooperating high schools.

The Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers

Title XIII of ESEA authorizes a network of 15 Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers to offer training and technical assistance to entities that receive ESEA funds, such as state and local education agencies, schools, tribes, and community-based organizations. When these centers open in April 1996, they will target districts with high percentages of children living in poverty and Title I schoolwide programs. The centers will help implement and coordinate school reform and provide opportunities for all students--especially those at risk of school failure--to meet state standards of performance. These 15 centers will replace more than 40 others that previously provided technical assistance tied to specific categorical programs.

Additional Support for Professional Development

Other ESEA provisions. Title I (Helping Disadvantaged Children Meet High Standards) can and should be used for professional development for all teachers, both regular classroom teachers and other staff who work with Title I children. (In a schoolwide program this means all teachers.) Districts that receive Title I funds must provide professional development activities that will "improve the teaching of academic subjects, consistent with State content standards, in order to enable all students to meet the State's student performance standards." These activities are designed by principals, teachers, and other school staff in Title I schools. Because 47 percent of the Title I instructional staff are teaching assistants, it is imperative that they be included in professional development activities with teachers. Additionally, Title I can pay for courses for Title I teaching assistants/paraprofessionals to further their careers and attain degrees. Title I also may be used for joint professional development with Head Start to improve the transition of children from Head Start to Title I. Finally, Title I funds, Eisenhower Professional Development Program funds, and Goals 2000 funds can and should be coordinated to support in-depth and continuing opportunities for teachers and other staff to develop the knowledge and skills they need to help all children achieve high standards.

Building partnerships with parents is a very important component of a successful school improvement plan. Too often schools give little attention to helping teachers and parents work together as a team to help their children learn. Few states require teachers to be trained in techniques to engage parents in their children's education (Radcliffe, Malone & Nathan, 1994). The Goals 2000: Educate America Act establishes parental information and resource centers to provide training, information, and support to parents and individuals who work with parents. Local education agencies may also use Title I funds to provide professional development to parents and school staff in order to increase parent involvement in Title I schools.

Local education agencies can use Title III (Technology for Education) funds for (1) long-term planning for education technologies and (2) on-going professional development in integrating education technologies into school curricula. Provisions of Title VII (the bilingual education program), help teachers and administrators improve educational services for limited-English-proficient children and youth by supporting professional development and the dissemination of information on effective instructional practices. In addition, provisions under Title IX (the Indian education program) allow local education agencies to use program funds to provide professional development to ensure that teachers and other school professionals are prepared to work with Indian children, and to provide preservice training to qualified Indian individuals.

Finally, under Title XIII, the National Diffusion Network provides professional development and technical assistance to states, districts, and schools through disseminating effective programs and promising practices.

The National Science Foundation. In addition to U. S. Department of Education initiatives to support faculty teaching and learning, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) program promotes education reform in math and science in 23 states through cooperative working arrangements or partnerships among state education agencies, colleges and universities, and business and citizen's groups. The SSI awards up to $10 million over five years to participating states.

In 1993, NSF began awarding $100,000 planning grants to 25 cities with high percentages of low-income students as part of its Urban Systemic Initiative (USI) program. Like the SSI, the USI encourages cooperative and comprehensive math and science education reform. In particular, the program is intended to support efforts to reduce the achievement gap in math, science, and technology between urban and suburban school students. So far, 18 cities have been awarded as much as $15 million over five years to implement their reform plans.

Both the SSI and USI programs target curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development for teachers, and state policies as areas of potential reform. SSI grantees spend the greatest portion of their NSF funds to support professional development for practicing math and science teachers.

Portland (OR) Shows How a Partnership with Other Organizations Promotes Professional Development

As of May 1995, Oregon had awarded Goals 2000 subgrants to 182 schools, five colleges and universities, and one community college. The Portland school district received a $50,000 subgrant to fund several activities, including professional development.

Portland has integrated its professional development program with Goals 2000, school-to-work transitions, and the state's new assessment system--the Certificates of Initial and Advanced Mastery. The Goals 2000 subgrant will support a research project designed to increase teachers' ability to help students attain the Certificate of Initial and Advanced Mastery. Small teams of teachers and counselors at each school will collaborate to identify the content and processes students need to meet the mastery standards; teachers have the opportunity to apply new knowledge and practice new skills, with support and feedback from peers and university/industry partners. The professional development activities are supported by several key partners:

  • Portland State University's School of Education and Continuing Education Department will provide training on educational theory, research, and exemplary practices in interdisciplinary curricula (such as student-centered learning strategies, school-to-work transitions, and assessment portfolios)

  • The Northwest EQUALS Project at Portland State University will provide expertise and training in "Interactive Mathematics" and "Family Math and Family Science"

  • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory will offer training and expertise in action research and quantitative data collection

  • Oregon Health Sciences University will provide internships for teachers, arrange visits to their facilities, work with teacher teams on integrated school- and work-based learning strategies, and provide training and assistance in the effective use of information technologies

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