San Francisco Unified School District,
San Francisco, CA
ResultsThe K-8 Mathematics Initiative serves as a good example of the way in which professional development in the district combines both centralized workshops with school site activity. During the summer a team of 200 teachers and administrators attended an institute focused on the new mathematics adoption K-8, instructional strategies for Limited English Proficient students, and bottom quartile improvement strategies. This team subsequently planned and delivered three district-wide professional development days designed for teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, and parents. (Additional parent/family sessions were offered at school-sites during the evenings and on Saturdays.) Teacher leaders from each school facilitated on-site follow-up that included issues such as family math, managing manipulatives, planning a standards-based math program, and assessing student growth. This initiative was supported by a number of local universities.
Test scores for reading and math on the CTBS have been used to show the impact of the professional development program. These data show that there has been a significant growth for all students in both areas for three consecutive years. Moreover, students attending "focus schools" with an emphasis on math and/or literacy show more than a year's growth for a year's instruction. This finding is especially encouraging since the emphasis is now on raising the performance level of the students in the bottom quartile. The emphasis on elementary science is also beginning to show a change in classroom practice. In the mid 1990s, elementary teachers reported spending an average of less than 30 minutes each week on science. Currently, in 2000, teachers are reporting an average of 140 minutes devoted to science.
The district plans to continue to refine this professional development model, giving schools more time, resources and technical assistance. Three areas will receive attention in the future: an administrators' institute, bilingual education, and technology.
San Francisco students have benefited from focused professional development efforts. The test scores in the standardized test CTBS have shown significant growth in achievement for all students in both reading and mathematics for three consecutive years. Students in schools with mathematics and/or literacy focused professional development efforts show more than a year's growth. This is particularly important in the effort to narrow the differential performance gap between Latino, African American and low income groups as standards are raised for all students.
Evidence shows that more time has been spent on science instruction throughout the system. In 1990, 80% of the elementary teachers reported teaching science less than 30 minutes a week, middle school offered on the average a year and a half of science and only three high schools offered science in the ninth grade. By 1996, students received an average of 140 minutes of science a week throughout the elementary grades with different time requirements at targeted grade levels, middle school students received three years of science, and most high schools were offering ninth grade science.
More classrooms have moved from the lecture mode to more interactive learning. Whole schools have aligned themselves to the standards and are engaging students in long term investigations, projects and meaning centered activities. We are beginning to see significant reform efforts being sustained beyond the life of initial grants or seed efforts.
Site Visit Documentation
San Francisco Unified School District's success was recorded based on a site visit conducted by the National Awards Program for Model Professional Development in 1996:
For 1996-1997, San Francisco Unified School District's Professional Development Initiative (PDI) offered three new areas of professional development that were born out of their needs and designed using research from other successful PDI efforts. Each program was designed to strengthen the total initiative.
Administrators Institute - All administrators participated in a comprehensive three-day institute in August focused on standards with up to eight follow-up sessions during the year. Each administrator chose a content area (mathematics, science, or literacy) to gain knowledge and skills in program improvement and coaching effective instructional practices.
Bilingual - The Bilingual Department in the district had traditionally operated separate from the Curriculum Improvement and Professional Development Department (CIPD). The Bilingual Department was merged with CIPD and all curriculum and professional development for bilingual education was developed under CIPD using the PDI model and tools.
Technology - The technology resource teachers who had traditionally focused on running computer labs at school sites were provided a new job description which included linking technology to the curriculum improvement and professional development efforts. They were supported through a technology collaborative and developed resources and expertise in a particular curriculum area for integrated uses of technology in the curriculum areas of language arts and mathematics.
San Francisco Unified School District is learning, growing, and succeeding, as a result of PDI to improve student achievement and plan to sustain these efforts.