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Published: February 27, 2019 Author: Kim Barlag

Chris Kennedy, associate lecturer in The Patton College of Education, received a high honor from the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) on February 15 at the organization’s national conference in Atlanta.

Kennedy was selected as winner of the 2019 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. He recently earned his Ed.D. from The Patton College with a dissertation entitled, “Teacher Perceptions of Reading Interventions Conducted by Teacher Candidates in a PDS Partnership.”

“The Patton College is extremely proud of Dr. Kennedy for his dedication to the PDS partnerships,” said Renée A. Middleton, dean of The Patton College. “His thorough research will benefit student advancement, and his inclusion in the Ph.D. ranks will only strengthen our college and our student-centered approach.”

NAPDS endorsed Kennedy's work as a contribution to the body of knowledge related to professional development schools.

“The decision of the reviewers to bestow this award to Dr. Kennedy was unanimous,” said Keith Conners, chair of the NAPDS Awards Committee. “He is a champion for P-12 higher education collaboration, and his work will inform and improve future PDS partnerships.”

The dissertation is a case study that investigates the teacher candidate-led reading intervention program in a local school. The teacher candidates are junior-level early childhood majors who were part of a Professional Development School (PDS) model that involves an extensive field placement. Teacher candidates tutored K-3 students that needed a little extra instruction to support their literacy learning. The candidates monitored progress and differentiated instruction.

While assessment data showed improvements in student learning, mentor teacher interviews supported the intervention as a key cause for the improvements. Specifically, interview results were connected with the nine essentials of PDS work that are necessary for effective PDS partnership. Conclusions indicate that the perceived effectiveness of the intervention was due to the PDS partnership arrangement. Therefore, PDS partnerships such as this can positively impact student learning.

“I am very excited that this work was recognized,” said Kennedy. “It reaffirms for me that extensive clinical experiences and PDS partnering models are beneficial to all of the parties. Teacher preparation programs should look to these reciprocal arrangements when preparing future educators.”

NAPDS is the pre-eminent national organization supporting and advancing school-university collaboration. The vision of the Association is to serve as an advocate for the educational community in promoting the continuous development of PreK-12/higher education/community relationships.