University of Pittsburgh
October 3, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 4 -- The University of Pittsburgh School of Education's Department of Instruction and Learning has received a $100,000 grant from the Howard Heinz Endowment to establish Professional Development Networks (PDNs) to strengthen the link between university coursework and the pre-service clinical experience in the teacher preparation program.

The PDNs will provide formalized partnerships between Pitt education faculty and collaborating teachers from local schools to explore teaching approaches that can lead to higher standards of performance for pre-service teachers and higher achievement standards for K-12 students.

Naomi Zigmond, professor, Department of Instruction and Learning (DIL), and director of the project, said, "Part of our learning curve over the next few years of this project will be to document and understand the changes that need to be made in University faculty roles and responsibilities to permit DIL faculty to become actively and successfully engaged in the Professional Development Networks."

Over a three year period, 10 networks will be established at both the elementary and secondary levels. The elementary networks will be organized geographically and the secondary networks will be organized by subject area.

Meryl K. Lazar, research assistant professor, DIL, and Brad Minnick, research associate, DIL, have been named co-directors of the PDN project. Lazar will direct the elementary efforts and Minnick, the secondary efforts.

Each network will consist of approximately two University faculty and

25 teachers. When fully developed, all teacher education faculty will be involved, as will about 225 teachers in 70 schools in 23 districts in Western Pennsylvania.