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ASU education program touted by school administrator at U.S. Congressional briefing


June 19, 2006

Patricia Tate testified at a Congressional hearing that Arizona State University’s Professional Development School (PDS) program improves teacher retention, teacher quality and student achievement. Tate, director of curriculum for the Osborn Elementary School District, appeared before Congress in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., June 15.

“The program is so powerful,” said Tate. “It is absolutely worth it to the students and worth it to the teachers. Our partnership with ASU through the PDS program has brought great research, statistics and proper measurements.”

PDS was launched in 2000 by program director Scott Ridley, associate professor in the College of Teacher Education and Leadership at ASU’s West campus, and Joann Talazus, principal of Osborn’s Longview Elementary School. The partnership resulted in Arizona’s first full-service PDS and offered new teacher preparation and the resources necessary to improve the Osborn School District’s instructional practice and increase student achievement.

“Becoming a Professional Development School is not just a design process,” said Ridley. “It is also a powerful collaborative process: a constructive back-and-forth dialogue among the university, schools and the community. The College of Teacher Education and Leadership took the lead on this type of university-school partnership because ASU is committed to working with community partners to provide the most qualified teachers in the state and in the nation.”

PDS partnerships are designed to strengthen the professional development of new teachers entering the education field, engaging ASU faculty and public school faculty into best practices in teaching and learning. On-going performance research indicates that PDS teachers are more effective, confident and stay in the profession longer than teachers prepared in other types of programs.

“As a high-poverty district, recruiting teachers of a high quality remains our biggest challenge,” Tate said. “The improvement on both fronts is directly related to the long-term partnership with ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership.”

The Osborn School District is located in the center of the greater Phoenix region, a major employment zone that feature vibrant economic development, the highest concentration of office space in the metropolitan area and a regional light rail transit system scheduled to open in late 2008.

The economic vitality of the Central Corridor is not reflected in the status of Osborn students. Of the district’s nearly 4,000 students (K-8), 87 percent live below the poverty level. Immigrant students from 40 countries make up 17 percent of the district’s total enrollment. Fifty-one percent of the student body is limited English proficient. Homeless students number 874.

“Our students come with great needs, but they also bring enrichment to the district,” said Tate. “We need the extraordinary resources to bring out the best in our students, and ASU is there for us through the PDS program.”

In her briefing, Tate detailed several areas of improvement in student achievement that were “directly related to the quality of (district) teachers and (the) long-term, active partnership with the ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership.”

“The impact of the PDS program has not only increased our 7th- and 8th-grade students’ test scores dramatically, it has also sustained the increase over a five-year period,” said Tate, referring to a study of scores from 2001 through 2005. “The improvement in scores and academic achievement and the sustainability is directly attributable to our partnership with ASU.”