Saturday, June 21, 2008

Teacher's Institute urges Rhee to contiue funding the program

Supporters of the Teachers Institute are lobbying Chancellor Rhee to continue to fund the program. Below is the text of a petition sent to the head of DCPS.
As current and former teachers whose students benefited from the high-quality professional development provided by Teachers Institute (TI), we are writing to encourage you to fund Teachers Institute for the following reasons:

1. TI schools out-performed non-TI schools, according to DC-CAS data collected by the TI.

2. The TI training is replicable; on the strength of the first cohort of schools a second cohort was added. Anecdotally, colleagues at non-TI schools expressed jealousy after hearing about the excellent training and materials TI teachers received.

3. The quality of professional development was among the best we've experienced, both within and outside of DCPS. All TI teachers received leveled libraries AND guidance on how to use them. TI professional developers maintained regular, familiar contact with teachers. Optional monthly trainings supported our work throughout the year. Long-term and unit plans were provided to guide instruction. This powerfully informed and improved our instruction, contributing to the quantitative and qualitative gains our schools made.

4. TI contributed to a culture of learning across DCPS. Not only was the PD better than most or all other programs, TI provided an opportunity for teachers from across the city and within a school to come together as a learning team. Teachers in the city's four quandrants could visit each other and learn from what's done in other schools. If the city is to create a world-class system, this kind of intradistrict learning is necessary. The best schools serve as paradigms to the rest, and teachers are reminded of what their schools and the achievement of their students can be.

5. TI provided teachers with higher-quality resources than any other DCPS initiative we used. In addition to the (perhaps unprecedented) leveled libraries in every TI classroom, teachers were provided with computers equipped with Accelerated Reader to track students reading levels. Teachers were instructed on how to use this data to support the reading development of our students.

6. TI provided more immediate support than other DCPS initiatives or programs. When something was going wrong in our classrooms, TI staff would work to help us problem solve. If something was wrong with our computers, technical support would be there quickly, often the next day. This level of support built trust between teachers and TI staff, and ensured that the reading and writing workshop continued as a dynamic part of our students' lives.

7. TI lessons increased student engagement and provided ready-made differentiation. The writer's workshop model promotes differentiated teaching at the students' reading and writing levels. It is appropriate for learners at all levels. TI trained us how to reinforce what our individual students were doing well and to foster the areas they lacked. Anecdotally we can attest that students enjoyed the model, and for many writing became a more joyful task.

While we regret that there may have been financial errors on the side of TI and/or DCPS, the program has had too much success and too much potential to let it end. Eliminating this high-quality program would be a great loss to the students and teachers of DC Public Schools. It is our firm hope that these management/oversight problems do not get in the way of the excellent education our students deserve.
Previous coverage here.

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