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Design by
Lisa Dempsey

 

TNLI: Action Research: Professional Development: Policy for Effective Classroom Reform

by Lynda Williams

AUGUST, 1997

Recommendations
District Policies Regarding Professional Development
Elements of Effective Staff Development
Works Cited

California has been centralizing both school finance and educational standards for two decades. It has made aggressive efforts to reform educational practice aligning the goals, content, and outcome standards for classroom instruction. As the school population's language diversity increased and included more Limited-English-proficient (LEP) children, it became concerned about the low school performance of many of these students and the shortage of teachers qualified to teach bilingual students.

In an attempt to deal with this problem, California passed legislation Senate Bill (SB) 2987 in 1991 to collapse into two the nearly one dozen different English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education certificates then being issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). On January 7,1994, the CTC adopted proposed regulations for new certificates that authorized instructional services to LEP students. These new certificates were the Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and the Bilingual, Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) Certificate. When the regulations became official, the CTC immediately implemented them. The purpose of the CLAD/BCLAD Certificates was to identify teachers who had demonstrated the level of knowledge and skills required to teach LEP students satisfactorily.

Some teachers held or met some of the requirements for earlier certificates that authorized instructional services to LEP students. Most of these had credit toward the BCLAD Certificate which generally was obtained by Tests 1-6 of the CLAD/BCLAD Examinations, though other routes were available.

Requirements for the CLAD Certificate included satisfaction of the CLAD second-language requirement (which basically meant completion of 6 semesters of second-language instruction) and 18 quarter units of CTC approved college coursework or passing of CLAD/BCLAD Tests 1,2, and 3.

At the same time the CTC acknowledged that the General Teaching Credential(GTC or Life Credential) authorized instruction for English language development to LEP students. However, the CTC and the California Department of Education (CDE) strongly recommended that teachers with a GTC be given appropriate and sufficient training in English language development instruction before being assigned to provide instruction to even one LEP student.

When the CLAD/BCLAD regulations were issued in June 1994, California Teachers' Association (CTA) tried to exclude the life credential teachers from this training. Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. warned that the rights of children took absolute priority and that no group of teachers could be exempted from a retraining requirement. OCR threatened that any district in which a teacher without proper training was employed in a LEP setting would lose its federal funding. In 1995, CTA was instrumental in the passage of SB 1969 which required 45 or 90 hours of training for seasoned teachers depending on their length of service. SB 1969 training must be completed by February 2000.

The OCR threat involved districts in the problem of training. My 1996-97 research in the districts of Santa Barbara County showed that the Santa Barbara School Districts were the only two who reached out to help their GTC teachers by offering the 45 hour SB 1969 CLAD training to teachers who had taught more than nine years. The staff development was scheduled during the work day with a $24 text book as the only expense.

In October 1996, I conducted an informal evaluation of the district's quickly arranged SB 1969 training and received a negative reaction from most of the teachers. They were affronted that the district would mandate this review of English language theory and cultural sensitivity training when they had been scheduled earlier to attend their schools' regular staff development. When the Santa Barbara Teachers' Association and district explained the state's mandate and the fact the training could save their jobs, there was a change in attitude.

In May 1997, the district allowed me to survey all 650 Santa Barbara teachers. The evaluation form asked for teacher progress in meeting the CTC language requirement, costs, and value to their classroom instruction and student achievement. 150 surveys were returned for compilation.

Tabulation of the results

:

Type of Training # of Teachers Range of expenses Mean
Through course work 47 $300 to $3000 $1271
Take district SB 1969 46 0 to $24
Through credential program 3 two summers in Mexico
CLAD by examination 14
$ 70
Retire before 2000 6 0
B-CLAD training 26 $200 to $13,000
Unclear about CLAD 8 ?

Rate CLAD instruction on the following scale as to application to your classroom instruction: 0 to 5, 0 being no change, 5 being postive improvement

Type of Training Median
Through course work 3
Take district SB 1969 2
CLAD by examination 3
B-CLAD training 3

Rate CLAD instruction on the following scale as to its impact on your students' achievements: 0 to 5, 0 being no change, 5 being postive improvement

Type of Training Median
Through course work 3
Take district SB 1969 2
CLAD by examination 3
B-CLAD training 3

I found that most teachers who chose to meet the B-CLAD had qualified under their previous bilingual training.

Teachers did not think the CLAD instruction by course work, examination, or SB 1969 had a great effect on their classroom instruction or their students' achievement. Even less effect was noted by the seasoned teachers taking the SB 1969 training.

The results suggests a need to modify the instructional methods since the desired outcomes of any staff development are to increase teacher skill and student achievement. Dennis Sparks, Fall 1994, says it well:

"The goal of staff development and other improvement efforts is improved performance on the part of students, staff, and the organization."

Scholars are recommending multiple approaches to staff development. Michael Fullan and Matthew Miles explain:

"Teachers will spend an increasingly larger portion of their workday in various processes that assist them in continually improving their understanding of the teaching and learning process. Action research, study groups, joint planning of lessons, and other processes will be regularly used by teachers to refine their instructional knowledge and skills."

During my teaching career, several personal, effective staff development experiences provided me with insight into potentially useful training. An early example of powerful training was in the early 1980's with my district's sponsorship of TESA (Teacher Effectiveness Student Achievement) training in which selected teachers and administrators were released from school for professional development. This was the first real commitment of the district to long term staff development. The district paid for substitutes, for training materials, and lunch. Following the training, each school formed a leadership team which worked with teachers in the areas of planning, support groups, and conducting peer observations. It gave us a feeling of ownership. The team work brought about a change in attitude and practices which helped improve student achievement. The project ended when we had a change in superintendent, but our school continued the practices of democratic planning and working together for the benefit of our students.

My second experience was in 1983 when I was selected as a National Science Foundation Tri-County Math Project Fellow. The first year in the project began with a summer institute and then monthly meetings. Since then, at least two support meetings have been offered each year. This format helped me to realize the value of long term high-quality effective professional development that includes support groups and follow-up training. What a wonderful way to learn! Teachers, working with their peers, would share a lesson they had developed which was followed by peer interaction and support which made us feel valued. Each was encouraged and supported as we took on leadership roles outside the Project and became county, state, and national workshop presenters, district mentors, and staff development facilitators. The Project brought effective changes to my teaching style and helped my students gain deeper understandings and higher achievements in math and language.

At Monroe, where I taught for 33 years, our continued student improvement has been recognized by selection for a second Distinguished School Award. It is a great school due to the staff's commitment to working together for every students' success and the teachers' leadership in obtaining staff development needed to implement new directions for the school.As an example of teacher leadership, about 10 years ago we initiated a program to meet the Language Arts instructional needs of our diverse population which we call Pupil Personal Instruction (PPI). Four days a week we have a 45 minute period at each of the intermediate grades (3, 4, and 5) where all teachers at one grade level and all available support staff facilitate small group instruction to students according to their language needs. Instructors are using similar programs with their homogeneous groupings. The groups are fluid and instructors are rotated during the year. The programs have changed over the years as we discover ways to improve the delivery of instruction and enrich content.

What are researchers learning about appropriate roles for districts regarding staff development and how can district sponsored or assisted staff development be structured so it meets the goals of truly increasing teacher skills and positively affecting student achievement?

Linda Darling-Hammond and Milbrey McLaughlin , April 1995, state:

"Once the spark is ignited, the staff development must have the support of the teachers and that staff development must include opportunities that give teachers access to knowledge about the nature of learning, development, and performance in different domains. Teachers need firsthand opportunities to integrate theory with classroom practice."
What matters Most, September 1996, informs us that,
"...if teachers have continuous access to the latest knowledge about teaching and learning, they will be better able to respond to the toughest learning problems and the challenge of meeting ever higher standards. Organize new sources of professional development such as teacher academies, school-university partnerships, and learning networks that transcend school boundaries."

One interesting strategy for technology training was shared by Computer Strategies at a recent statewide Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs, California. The company realized that teachers are at various levels of expertise in their computer skills and the district needed to start inservices at those levels instead of everyone attending an "Introduction to Computers" class. The company used good teaching techniques when they developed a matrix to help identify the levels of expertise, used a questionnaire to identify teachers' levels of competence, and then announced which content area workshops would be offered first based on the greatest needs.

California State Superintendent Delaine Eastin was interviewed by the Santa Barbara News Press on September 25, 1996:

"What direction do you see education reform going in California and what role do individual school districts play?"

Delaine Eastin's response:

"All the best reforms have always come from districts. I hope that the future of the Department of Education is more as a clearinghouse for good educational ideas."

The national report, What Matters Most, stated:

"Federal and state legislation should create stable, high-quality sources of professional development--then allocate 1% of state and local spending to support them with matching funds to school districts for implementation."

Linda Darling-Hammond and Milbrey McLaughlin , April 1995, mention,

",,,new paradigms for professional development policy are emerging, the hard work of developing concrete exemplars of the policies and practices that model "top-down support for bottom-up reform" has only just begun."
The problems our district experienced in trying to implement the state mandated CLAD policy point up another problem. As was stated by Michael Fullan, June 1992:
"Reforms fail because our attempts to solve problems are frequently superficial...There are numerous examples of new legislation and policies being rushed into place with little forethought about possible negative consequences and side effects."

As school reform proponents Ann Lieberman and Lynne Miller state,

"...for school restructuring to occur, a combination of factors must be present at the same time and over time-including leadership, a shared mission, school goals, necessary resources, the promotion of colleague ship, and the provision of professional growth opportunities for teacher."
Professional development that is modeled on a view of teachers as learners enables and encourages teachers to grow and adapt throughout their long careers. When it is developed in collaboration with teachers at the school site and is ongoing and integrated into the school day it can fine tune the teachers' skills and enable changes to be made in the classroom and school which support and enhance student achievements. When policy makers want to make changes, they must supply the time and financial means to adequately and creatively support staff development. With this support, teachers will voluntarily commit to setting school wide goals and career-long learning to improve their skills so that their students achieve academic success.

Recommendations

State Policies that Require Professional Development

  1. When state policy is enacted which requires staff development, the policy must include a financial component that will fund effective training at the school and district levels.

  2. Policy makers need to confer with teachers or organizations representing teachers to address and resolve the proposed staff development components:
    • Hear and incorporate teachers' responses to the proposed staff development components of the policy.
    • Adjust and increase staff development design as needed.
    • Establish state funding sources that will enable effective staff development at the state, district, and school levels.
    • Address and financially compensate for the time demands the policy makes on the teacher, school, and district.
    • Establish ways of assessing the extent to which the policy benefits students' achievement.
District Policies Regarding Professional Development
  1. Planning for staff development needs to begin with the school site's Staff Development Committee. This committee may request assistance from the district as needed for planning and executing its staff development.

  2. A teacher representative from each site will meet as the district's Staff Development Committee to help:
    • Compile information from and coordinate staff development among the schools.
    • Identify the points of high leverage where staff development might bring change in the schools.
    • Assist in obtaining high quality staff development instruction
    • Ensure that allocations of financial resources are fairly distributed

      to sites.

    • Develop a resource base for effective staff development.
    • Facilitate the state professional development plans

Elements of Effective Staff Development

  1. Effective staff development includes:

    • Scheduling staff development as part of the professional day.
    • Minimizing training only one person from the school site.
    • Creating ways of using technology that bring "knowledge to the learner" at schools or home while reducing cost and improving accessibility.
    • Linking for discussion via Listserve, chat rooms, conference calls.
    • Prioviding adequate materials for staff training and classroom instruction.
    • Offering instruction based on understanding the change process, sound educational theory, and research regarding instruction.
    • Making staff develkopment available to all who affect student learning.
    • Planing for ongoing teacher support, review, reflection, and assessment.
    • Including daily time-even in elementary schools-for teachers to reflect personally and with other teachers about their progress in learning new content, teaching strategies, and wyas to evaluate of student achievement.

Works Cited

Computer Strategies, 4339 Saint Andrews Road, Oakland, CA 94605 Voice/Fax (510) 562-8066

Darling-Hammond, Linda. November 1996. "What Matters Most: A competent teacher for Every Child." Phi Delta Kappan 193-200

Darling-Hammond, Linda, Milbrey W. McLaughlin. April 1995. "Policies That Support Professional Development In an Era of Reform." Phi Delta Kappan 597-604

Dilworth, Mary E. and David G. Imig. Winter 1995. "Professional Teacher Development" The ERIC Review. Vol. 3 Issue 3. 5-11

Fullan, Michael G, and Matthew B. Miles. June 1992. "Getting Reform Right: What Works and What Doesn't" Phi Delta Kappan. 745-751

Liberman, Ann, and Lynne Miller.June 1990. "Restructuring Schools: What Matters and What Works." Phi Delta Kappa 71 (10):759-764

Sparks, Dennis. Fall 1994. "A Paradigm Shift in Staff Development", Journal of Staff Development. and The Eric Review Vol. 3 Issue 3, Winter 1995

What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future. September 1996 Summary Report: Report of the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. Teachers College, Columbia Univ. Box 117, 525 W. 120th St.,NY NY 10027

 

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