NewYork City identified a need for on-going and structured professional development for there alternative schools. New York alternative schools are called transfer schools and serve over aged and under credited youth (students can be enrolled as early as 10th grade and have until their 21st birthday to finish their diploma and pass all of the regency exams).
They found the professional development needed to include Social Emotional Learning, rigor, relevance, differentiation, collaborative learning, counseling support, small class/school support, relationships, high standards/expectations with credit recovery, and flexible delivery to name a few. Sounds great, right? Well, New York created a three-year training program to address these things!
A little more about the structure of transfer schools: they enroll students 3-4 times a year and use a trimester system for credit recovery. I thought it was nice that the city decided to have a universal way to address credit recovery, it leads nicely into collaboration.
Transfer schools are unique because they were created out of need when NY noted high dropout rates and needed to address the issue. As the schools got started, there was a vetting process for school leadership and teachers; this work is not for the faint of heart. Once the schools got going, they knew they had passionate teachers and leaders, but what was missing was a professional development that was needed to support students at these schools.
The city then leveraged a 3-year professional development training program (which was no small feat) that works with principals and teachers to develop schools using research-based practices for alternative settings.
To get into the program schools must apply and must commit to the program for three-years. What was created out of this program was a robust learning community where similar schools were able to use data and collaborate toward a goal with focused attention all the while doing what is best for THEIR students. The PD is intense and works directly with schools to create their school-wide goals, common planning time, and Pineapple learning time (where any teacher can go into another teacher class and observe). The PD includes a paid teacher in-service three Saturday's a year, and principals have three meetings a year with others in the program. In these learning communities as with PLC's, schools create their own action research for student improvement.
The data is remarkable, which speaks volumes to schools that use data to guide instruction and work toward a goal. To learn more about this program you can to go: