Integrated Professional Development Schools

THEORY TO PRACTICE, ISSUE NO. 3, FALL '11

Two of the biggest issues in the debate about American education are teacher training and student achievement, and Integrated Professional Development Schools (IPDS) help both.

An IPDS is a school that has partnered with a university that trains teachers to match the university’s research goals with problems that teachers and professionals experience on the job.

“IPDS networks are a potentially powerful tool to improve student achievement,” says Albert Mussad, director of Lehigh’s IPDS Partnership.

“They provide best practices, additional people such as professors and university students, and professional development for teachers and other staff in the schools.”

Over the past few years, the College of Education has partnered with three schools in Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Area School District: Thomas Jefferson and Farmersville Elementary Schools and Broughal Middle School.

Lehigh’s program is unique because it is integrated—professors and graduate students in all six of the College of Education’s academic and professional preparation programs train in the partner schools and work with faculty, staff and administrators to increase student success. The College of Arts and Sciences and Lehigh’s C.O.A.C.H. program take part, too.

For example, doctoral candidates in the counseling psychology program are working with students in the middle school to improve their understanding of choices and consequences in their relationships with others. And Thomas Hammond, assistant professor of teaching, learning and technology, is using technology-mediated social studies instruction to improve student writing scores.

The relationships with the partner schools are mutually beneficial. Lehigh students and professors bring their expertise to bear on the schools’ problems, and the schools offer a real-life laboratory and allow researchers to see the problems teachers and professionals face every day.

It’s a true partnership, dedicated to improving education.