Enacting the Mission
A Brief History
Soon after its establishment in 1991, the Hiatt Center sponsored a series of courses and summer institutes focused on teacher research-on giving teachers new tools of inquiry with which to learn about classroom discourse and student learning. Some summer institutes focused on topics such as writing and media literacy and addressed specific areas of practice. The locus of much of the work was at the nearby Goddard elementary school, which for a time was a dedicated site for implementing the complex instruction program developed from the research of Elizabeth Cohen at Stanford University and designed to ensure equitable learning opportunities.
The Hiatt K-17 Professional Development School (PDS) Collaborative
In 1994-95 the Center began the process of developing professional development school (PDS) partnerships with several schools in the Main South area of the city. The PDS partnerships would be dedicated to collaborative teacher preparation, professional learning and school reform.
All of the targeted schools enrolled students from a deteriorating neighborhood adjacent to Clark. The Main South area was and remains the most diverse in the city, with a predominately low income population, and with roughly 70% of the students qualifying for the federal free or reduced lunch program. The complexities of urban schools are fully present there, challenging Clark's sense of self-preservation and neighborhood responsibility, as well as its capacity as a partner and an agent of social change. Paralleling the evolution of the Hiatt PDS Collaborative, Clark formed another collaborative effort with community partners to rehabilitate and revitalize its surrounding neighborhood. The two efforts have since intersected and reinforced each other.
Starting with two relatively large K-6 schools, a large middle school, and a comprehensive high school, the PDS Collaborative became the central focus of Hiatt Center activity. Support from various state, federal and foundation grants during the first decade of the PDS Collaborative helped to provide for the development of new collaborative learning practices for teachers and teacher preparation students, supported the development of new graduate programs through changes in teacher licensure, sustained the school-based role of professional development school coordinator, and made the evolution of a bona fide clinical faculty team possible. More information.
University Park Campus School (UPCS)
The addition of University Park Campus School changed the profile of the Collaborative dramatically. In 1995 the Superintendent of Schools, concerned about the declining performance of students at the large comprehensive high school of which he had once been principal, and that served the Main South area, approached the University about collaborating on a small neighborhood secondary school. The idea of a new secondary school dovetailed neatly with the University's growing commitment to community revitalization and the Hiatt Center's evolving partnership role with the neighborhood's schools. A new school could be a stabilizing and invigorating force in a neighborhood filled with decaying three-decker houses, abandoned factories and faded dreams.
Support for the early development of the school was folded into a new HUD grant designed to facilitate neighborhood renewal and administered by the University. The school opened in the fall of 1996 with a group of about thirty seventh graders chosen by lottery from a neighborhood pool, two full-time teachers (mathematics/science and English/history), a principal/teacher of Spanish, and two graduate students from the Hiatt Center who taught history and mathematics. Students were able to use the University's athletic center and library, and planned and participated in events at the University Center. These experiences were designed to make the University more familiar and accessible, and extended the school's effort to socialize students' belief in their own capability, foster good habits of learning, and build aspiration for college. To complete the pathway linking students' lives to the University through the school, students who qualified for University admission were promised a tuition-free education.
During this early incubation period the "school with a promise" was housed on campus in an elegantly aging, Victorian-era former elementary school building owned by the University. By its third year UPCS had moved to a public school building of similar vintage-although more worn-a few blocks away. A new grade was added to the school every year, with a total population of roughly 240 students once fully enrolled. Each of the 31 members of the first graduating class in 2003 passed the statewide MCAS test as required for a diploma. Every graduating class since has equaled this record while passing the test at a higher level. More significantly, each year a relatively high percentage of students qualify to take at least one course at Clark University as a junior or senior ( see chart), and each qualifies for post-secondary education at a two or four year institution. UPCS as a whole perennially outperforms all other urban schools in Massachusetts in the MCAS program, and has been recognized by state and national organizations as an outstanding model of urban school effectiveness.
UPCS has come to embody the Hiatt Center mission. Each year a cohort of 5-6 graduate students is assimilated into the life of the school for the academic year; they follow in the footsteps of about half of the fourteen full-time teachers. Most of the teachers serve in a co-instructor or co-mentoring role in the teacher preparation programs, or in comparable roles in the Hiatt Center collaborative professional learning programs. In matters of curriculum philosophy, professional learning practice and teaching practice UPCS and the Hiatt Center form a hybrid university-school culture.
Belief, culture and practice at the school are unified. The environment is both personalized and purposeful, with the academic and personal development of students the focus of curriculum and decision-making. The sense of purpose is not burdened unduly by performance pressure; the atmosphere is upbeat and positive. As much as there are high expectations and a school record of high performance to uphold, the emphasis is on academic development and increasing student learning capacity over time-necessary in light of the typical third or fourth grade reading level of incoming students. A student's first years at the school focus on literacy, numeracy and developing the capacity to learn challenging content-basically on developing as readers, writers and thinkers. Beginning in 9th grade the focus shifts to exercising that capacity in a curriculum that is increasingly rigorous over time. Along the way students are engaged in learning authentic in the sense that it is faithful to how historians, literary artists, mathematicians and scientists learn, and strive to reach the goal of college readiness.
Expanding UPCS Success:
Integrating teacher education and school reform
The early success and continued promise of UPCS helped attract new support for Hiatt Center programs. In a watershed period that began in 1999 the Center held a Title II Teacher Quality grant (shared with several other institutions in the state) for five years (1999-2004), a three year Title II Teacher Recruitment grant (2002-05), and a five year Carnegie "Schools for a New Society" implementation grant focused on high school transformation in Worcester (2001-06). The Carnegie grant is now in a no-cost extension period. For the past several years the partnership with UPCS has been one of several supported by the Nellie Mae Foundation as part of its five year "Partnerships for College Success" program (2004-2009). In addition, UPCS, Clark and Boston-based Jobs for the Future have co-sponsored, with funding from the Gates Foundation, a UPCS learning institute for those involved in small schools elsewhere in the country.
Most recently, the Hiatt Center received a grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation (from the Norman L. and Dorothy A. Sharfman Fund and Greater Worcester Community Scholarship Fund: Ruth and John Adam, Founders) to support the development of a grades 7-12 school, reconfigured from the K-12 Accelerated Learning Laboratory (the A.L.L. School), as a sister school to UPCS, and to connect this effort with ongoing work at South High School.
Enacting the Mission: Current Status
The following is a summary of the partnership and programs as they now exist, and a brief assessment of their development.
The UPCS partnership is unique in its depth, combining teacher preparation, collaborative forms of professional learning, and boundary-spanning roles (teachers and Hiatt clinical faculty have collaborated on courses, classroom observations and curriculum), with direct support for students in the form of tutors and mentors, opportunities to take University courses in 11th and 12th grades, support for the college admissions process, and tuition-free access to a University education.
A new Hiatt Main South Secondary School Collaborative is in formation. The Secondary School Collaborative comprises three schools serving students in the Main South neighborhood. University Park Campus School is the cornerstone of the Collaborative. In the same neighborhood as UPCS, with Clark as the midpoint between them, a small grades 7-12 school (to be named by the students) serving 340 students has formed, newly configured from the former K-12 "Accelerated Learning Laboratory". South High School, the large comprehensive high school originally part of the Hiatt PDS group and converted partially to a set of small learning communities as a result of the Carnegie initiative, completes the trio. These schools share similar demographics and the same geographical landscape. It is entirely possible for students from all three schools to live literally next door to each other; but their school experiences invariably are different.
The Secondary Collaborative comes close to being a microcosm of national high school reform efforts, as it includes a small school built from the bottom up, a small school reconfigured from a larger one, and a large school conversion effort. Since they serve a similar population in the same geographical and social context, these different schools form a living laboratory to test whether effectiveness can be developed in different settings, and the role of partnership in making it happen. Consistent equitable outcomes, as determined in part by the college-going rate for students from all sub-groups, will be the measure of success of the Collaborative.
The basic near term goals of the Secondary Collaborative are to develop a partnership structure and learning community, a strong academic curriculum and learning culture, an equally strong professional learning culture, and a system of parental and community support. The structure of the partnership is still forming. A huge advantage is that UPCS and its new grades 7-12 sister school share the same principal at present; she and the principal of the converting comprehensive high school have also worked together and with the Hiatt Center. A partnership committee to guide the development of the new grades 7-12 school has formed. By next year a partnership committee representing all of the schools and the community is planned.
Two elementary schools, also located in the general neighborhood of the University, combine with the Secondary School Collaborative to form The K-17 Hiatt Professional Development School (PDS) Collaborative. The K-17 PDS Collaborative forms the context for all of the teacher preparation programs, and for most of the professional learning programs sponsored by the Center. Members of the K-17 Collaborative share a common approach to teacher preparation, and participate in some longstanding collaborative learning teams (see below) sponsored by the Hiatt Center. More information.
The Hiatt Center has also served as the core partner in the district's high school reform initiative, part of the Carnegie Corporation's national Schools for a New Society program, for the past six years. In carrying out this role the Center has facilitated and hosted the Worcester Education Partnership (WEP). The WEP combines community, school district and University leadership for the purpose of advocating for, supporting and assessing progress of the initiative. It is unclear at this point, as the period of funding ends and the initiative shifts to more internal district control, to what extent the WEP will continue. It is clear that the Center's capability as an agent of systemic change is limited. To the extent its role continues it will become more advisory than management-oriented, and, in keeping with its mission and resources, more a matter of strategic support and example through work in the Main South neighborhood.
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program
Up until 2006 the University ran both undergraduate and graduate programs leading to teacher licensure. Changes in state licensure requirements made it increasingly difficult to sustain the undergraduate program, and the philosophical orientation of the Hiatt Center, stressing a careful integration of content, pedagogical and contextual knowledge, and practitioner, theoretical and contextual perspectives, made it increasingly difficult to justify. The Center's experience for a number of years with a clinical MA program made clear the value and importance of a carefully structured full year internship in the process of preparing capable beginning urban teachers committed to a student-centered, collaborative and reflective professional culture. Although the MA program still exists to serve students and teachers interested in a disciplined development of their practice, it has been supplanted by the MAT program as the core program of the Hiatt Center. Still maturing, the MAT program is the only route to teacher licensure offered.
The MAT degree culminates a five year "accelerated degree" program for Clark students. The accelerated degree is available to highly qualified students, and includes a tuition-free fifth year. The vast majority of students enrolled in the MAT program fit this profile, fulfilling our program goal to attract able and committed future urban teachers. A small number of students who are new to Clark, or who do not qualify for the accelerated degree, are also admitted.
The five year program includes courses in Clark's program of liberal studies, a liberal arts major, and a slow immersion in education courses and field work beginning in the senior year. Prior to their senior year, students take a foundational course in the program, Complexities of Urban Schooling. As seniors they take 2-3 courses that apply to the MAT, creating room for a concentrated full year internship in a partner school during the fifth year. The fifth year includes a set of summer courses, and an integration of several more courses with the full academic year internship-a scaffolded immersion approach. Students assume increasing teaching responsibility and complete a portfolio illustrating their development as teachers and the progress of their students as learners.
The program functions to provide a pool of strong beginning teachers for the district, although each year a good number of students are lured elsewhere by districts with shorter hiring timelines. Many recent graduates of the program have been hired in partner schools, with several now in a position to act as mentors for graduate students. The hiring record is one measure of the program's effectiveness ( see chart). We hope to apply other measures, such as the length of former students' tenure in urban settings and quality of teaching, that will help us to learn from and further develop the program, and share it as an example with others. More information.
Collaborative Learning Practices
The Center has established a set of collaborative learning practices designed to cultivate shared understandings, develop teaching practice and build the partnership learning community. The "rounds" program is emblematic, bringing together university faculty, teachers and students in a process of sharing, observing and learning from practice in actual partnership classrooms. In addition, various teams-Curriculum Teams in history, the humanities, mathematics, and the sciences, and evolving literacy and numeracy teams-join together, in varying degrees, the perspectives of arts and sciences faculty, education faculty and partner school teachers in discussing content, curriculum and pedagogy. Members of these teams annually design and teach a set of summer institutes for teachers and graduate students that carry graduate credit.
Hiatt Center programs in collaborative learning regularly involve faculty from other departments at Clark. Members of the English, History, Mathematics, and Sciences Departments have met with Hiatt Center curriculum teams and/or played instructional roles in summer institute courses.
As noted above, the Hiatt Center has received extensive support for partnership development and the corresponding development of its teacher education curriculum, and for school reform. Local, state, federal and private foundation sources have all contributed.