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What is a PDS?

WHAT IS PDS (Professional Development School)?

The Professional Development School initiative (PDS) involves a partnership between SUNY Cortland and area schools to create a learning community to develop meaningful and authentic approaches to educating students grades P-12. This involves collaborative work between school-based and college-based faculty as well as administrators from both contexts.

PDS programs allow college faculty access to a real world environment to more effectively bridge the gap between theory and practice, creating a more immediate impact on pre-service teachers. Student learning in the schools is enhanced, as students and faculty benefit from the PDS foundation of shared interest, mutual commitment, authentic engagement and relevant teaching.

Future teachers benefit from a more authentic classroom experience and are better prepared for entry into the profession. School faculty benefit from opportunities to engage in applied research and faculty development with college colleagues.

triangle illustration how the pds works



The ultimate goal of PDS is enhancement of student achievement. College faculty prepare candidates and share best practice and updated research information with area teachers. Community teachers provide rich experiences for teacher candidates in their classrooms and share innovative ideas and practices with college faculty and teacher candidates. This partnership encourages effective teaching for grades P-12 students.


As a member of NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (www.ncate.org), SUNY Cortland, in its PDS relationships strives to meet key standards that are characteristic of effective teaching: 1. learning community; 2. accountability and assurance; 3. collaboration, equity, and diversity; 4. structures, resources, and roles. NCATE also provides that PDS partnerships work toward a four-fold mission:

  • preparation of new teachers
  • faculty development
  • inquiry-directed improvement of practice
  • enhanced student achievement 

 As a member of the National Association for Professional Development Schools (www.NAPDS.org), SUNY Cortland and participating PDS school district partners are committed to creating an educational community in the spirit of continuous improvement of faculty and pre-service teachers through inquiry-based initiatives.