Impact and Recognition
News Note: The Hiatt Center is the recipient of the 2007 Richard Wiesnewski Award from the Society of Professors of Education for "singularly significant contributions to the theory and practice of teacher education." The Award is named in honor of Richard Wisniewski, past president of the Society, past president of AACTE (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education), and former dean of the College of Education at the University of Tennessee.
Achievement at two of the partnership schools is the best measure of the impact and continuing potential of the Partnership programs. The Jacob Hiatt Magnet Elementary School has earned recognition from the U.S. Department of Education as a model of professional development and been awarded the blue ribbon of excellence. At University Park Campus School, as noted above, every student has passed the statewide MCAS test required for graduation. As significant, several UPCS juniors and seniors participate in Clark courses.
UPCS has been recognized as a "Vanguard School," a statewide award for schools exemplifying high standards for all students. The University has received the statewide "Rennie Award" as an outstanding University partner, the state's highest distinction in leadership in education reform, and similarly earned the state's first Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award. In the fall of 2003 UPCS was touted as the only "high performing" school in Massachusetts, based on a study co-sponsored by the MassInc Center for Education Research and Policy. UPCS and the Clark partnership was featured in the April 2004 issue of Commonwealth magazine. In the fall of 2004, UPCS was declared a "Breakthrough High School" for its effectiveness in supporting diverse students from low income background by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In fall 2005 it was one of five schools recognized by the Education Trust for effectiveness in ensuring high achievement among low income, diverse students. In Fall 2006 UPCS was cited in a report ("Expanding Learning Time in High Schools) by the Center for American Progress. The school is now widely acknowledged as one of the highest performing urban schools in the state and country.
The connection between the success of these schools and the teacher preparation programs is very concrete. Many of the teachers in both schools are recent graduates of the Partnership programs, including seven of the fourteen full-time teachers at UPCS. On any given day a significant amount of instruction at UPCS-about one-third overall-is in the hands of students who are following in their footsteps, and, in some cases, learning directly from them through a mentoring relationship. Efforts are underway to replicate this pattern in the other school sites; the high school partners are transforming into small learning communities in the UPCS mold through the high school reform initiative co-authored by the Hiatt Center.
There are more modest and tentative signs of positive impact. After several years of intensive restructuring and increasing personalization and academic support for students by adding new practices such as literacy and numeracy classes for 9th graders, South High saw its largest jump in statewide test scores in 2006, with achievement levels an average 15% higher than the previous year in most student demographic groups. While this change appears significant, it needs to be evaluated in relation to other indicators of success, such as student enrollment in honors and advanced placement courses and the percentage of graduates qualifying for post-secondary education.
The PDS Partnership has drawn attention based on other criteria for effective practice. It has been cited as exemplary in different reports by the National Research Council and National Science Teachers Association, and was featured as a case study in an article in the Journal of Teacher Education (Lee Teitel, "An Assessment Framework for Professional Development Schools: Going Beyond the Leap of Faith," Vol. 52, No. 1, January/February 2001).
The Hiatt K-17 Professional Development School Partnership was also a founding member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Urban Teacher Quality and Student Achievement. The Coalition received substantial support through the Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement program (1999-2004). The Hiatt Center was awarded a Title II Teacher Recruitment grant as well (2002-2005). This grant provided scholarships to support candidates in the Partnership Master of Arts in Teaching program that met the highest areas of need for qualified teachers in the district, with a corresponding three-year induction program. The Hiatt Center teacher preparation programs are the only ones in Massachusetts that have been supported simultaneously by both Title II grant programs.