Professional Development Schools Initiative for Elementary Education Students

Professional Development Schools (PDS) were established as partnerships between PK-12 schools and teacher preparation universities. They offer pre-service teachers an opportunity to work with experienced teachers in a classroom setting while improving student achievement (Levine, 2002). The Professional Development Schools program at Westconn brings together classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, and professors. This collaborative effort provides an opportunity for the Education and Educational Psychology Department and classroom teachers in the Danbury and Bethel Public Schools to partner for the purpose of improving teacher quality and student learning.

NCATE Standards
Western Connecticut State University's Professional Development Schools subscribe to the five standards established by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (Blair, 2001). They include learning community, accountability and quality assurance, collaboration, equality and diversity, and structures, resources and roles.

  1. Learning Community: Danbury is the 7th largest city in Connecticut. It is located approximately 2 miles east of the New York state line. The Danbury community is supportive of its educational system and boasts the second largest high school in the state. Parents and community members often serve as mentors. They also work with local schools to improve student achievement and learning. Schools offer seminars to parents and staff development sessions for teachers.
  2. Accountability and Quality Assurance: Stakeholders involved in the PDS partnership uphold state and national standards for teaching and learning. This includes incorporating criteria from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Connecticut Competency Teacher (CCT) standards. Such standards are documented in classroom teachers' lesson plans and University course syllabi.
  3. Collaboration: Classroom teachers work with pre-service teaches in field-based settings to enhance their professional skills. Pre-service teachers develop curriculum materials and implement teaching methods and instructional strategies that address diverse student learning styles. WCSU supports learning through academic development and delivery of clinical courses, cooperative school-University projects, and by maintaining exemplary field-based sites.
  4. Equality and Diversity: Pre-service teachers work with diverse populations within the Danbury Public Schools. Over 30 different languages are spoken in the community. Emphasis is placed on the learning styles of all students including those with special needs and the talented and gifted.
  5. Structures, Resources and Roles: In addition to the partnership among classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, and University professors, others are involved. School principals and University personnel are very active in the program. They monitor the PDS program in their schools, and meet with University faculty on a regular basis. In addition, University faculty liaisons are assigned to each school. They are a channel of communication between the school and University.
Blair, J. (2001). NCATE releases quality measures for professional development sites. Education Week,
  21(8), 14.
Levine, M. (2002). Why invest in professional development schools? Educational Leadership, 59(6),

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