Institute for
Educational Inquiry

Center for
Educational Renewal

National Network for
Educational Renewal

Agenda for Education
in a Democracy

Agenda para la Educacion
en una Democracia

Foundation Support

Board of Directors


Institute for Educational Inquiry
124 East Edgar Street
Seattle, WA 98102
Tel: (206) 325-3010

NNER Partner School Portraits

General Background

During the past fifteen years, John I. Goodlad has provided leadership for two major studies that define essential characteristics of schools and the preparation of educators for those schools. These studies led to the writing of several frequently cited publications, including A Place Called School (1984) and Teachers for Our Nation's Schools (1990). Goodlad and his colleagues in the Center for Educational Renewal (CER) at the University of Washington and its partner, the Institute for Educational Inquiry (IEI), promote partner schools as settings for the ongoing simultaneous renewal of schools and the education of educators. These schools, so often referred to as professional development schools (PDSs), are needed to provide candidates for teaching credentials with effective laboratory settings. They are also needed as locations for the professional development of practitioners, for the advancing of inquiry regarding teaching and learning, and for the development of improved schooling for P-12 students. The work of the schools is guided by the principles laid out in the Partner School Compact.

The CER established the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) in 1985 to serve as a laboratory of school-university partnerships dedicated to advancing the strategy of simultaneous renewal. That Network now includes 17 settings in 15 states, embracing 41 universities, over 100 school districts, and more than 500 partner schools. As these partner schools emerged, it became obvious that developing them at the secondary level is far more difficult than creating them in conjunction with earlier levels of schooling. Traditionally, to a greater extent than for elementary schools, the preparation of secondary teachers has been a shared responsibility between education and arts and sciences departments at colleges and universities. Miscommunication or lack of communication between these parties has often been a characteristic of this shared effort. Moreover, the comprehensive high school of the later part of the twentieth century has been attacked on many fronts: for being too specialized or not specialized enough; for being too comprehensive or not comprehensive enough; for not adequately training teachers in their disciplines or for training teachers to be too subject-matter oriented; for not meeting “world class standards” or for failing to take into account the varied needs of the diverse population of young people.

Thanks to the generous support of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Institute for Educational Inquiry has been able to work closely with a group of both established and fledgling secondary partner schools in the National Network for Educational Renewal to address some of these challenges.

The reports that follow have been prepared as portraits and updates of portraits from the participants in this initiative. The schools involved represent some that are at the beginning stages as professional development schools and others that have become sophisticated PDSs. When you enter the following links, the ten schools that participated over a two-year period tell their story in two parts: an initial portrait and an update. The schools that participated in the effort for only one year offer a portrait of their work for that year.

Not surprisingly, none of these schools has discovered all the answers to the difficult challenges facing PDSs. (For more information about these challenges and possible approaches to meeting them, the reader may wish to consult Richard W. Clark, Effective Professional Development Schools, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999). What these portraits and the updates do reveal is a picture of the complexity of the work, the obstacles being faced, and the successes that some schools are having. The different environments in which these schools operate are evident to even the casual reader. As their stories unfold, the reader realizes why no simple formula or short-term set of initiatives is going to succeed in strengthening secondary education. The work by educators from colleges and schools reported here is encouraging as it affirms the value in simultaneously working to improve the quality of teachers and the effectiveness with which schools function as they seek to prepare citizens for their role in a social and political democracy.

In order to download the following links, you must have or install Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

NNER Partner School Portraits