WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 28, 2019 — The School District of Palm Beach County, UPD Consulting, and Savvas Learning Company are teaming up to develop and lead an innovative professional learning model to support a new math curriculum for middle school students.
The two-year initiative will allow the District, UPD Consulting, and Savvas Learning Company to create and implement customized professional development that will benefit the District’s middle school math teachers who are in their first four years of teaching.
The partnership, made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Professional Learning Partnerships Initiative, will work to demonstrate that high-quality instructional materials allow teachers to better help students master the skills, knowledge, and experiences that will support them in school and in life. However, because the adoption of instructional materials alone is insufficient to ensure that teachers are fully equipped to deliver high-quality instruction that meets individual student learning needs, curriculum must also be accompanied by professional learning opportunities.
The targeted training and supports developed by this partnership will help enhance teachers’ instructional skills so that they can more effectively implement Savvas’s enVision Florida Mathematics program and will provide a focus on mathematics standards and pedagogy, diversity and equity, and differentiating for the needs of new and beginning teachers. The goals of the grant align with the District's Five-Year Strategic Plan of bettering the academic gains for its Black, Latino, ELL and low-income students.
“Professional development is critical at every level of a teaching career, and through this partnership, our newest teachers will gain the skills to not only effectively teach the material, but also how to analyze their student outcomes to ensure improvement and equity among their students,” said Dr. Glenda Sheffield, Chief Academic Officer of the School District.
“We are excited to partner with the School District of Palm Beach County and UPD Consulting to develop and deliver targeted training for new teachers to further improve the educational outcomes of students,” said Heidi Bruhn, Savvas Learning Company’s vice president of product management and marketing for mathematics. “We appreciate the resources the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided to make this happen.”
As part of this partnership, Savvas Learning Company and UPD will work hand-in-hand with the school district to develop supplementary professional learning content and improved ways of delivering it that will better support novice teachers who are often placed in classrooms serving high concentrations of low-income students and students of color. The partnership approach shifts traditional “stand-and-deliver” sessions to professional learning that is collaborative, grounded in data and examples of student work, focuses on continuous cycles of implementation, and is supported by aligned classroom coaching. These services will supplement the existing array of innovative professional services that Savvas Learning Company already provides the District to help its teachers learn best practices on teaching enVision Florida Mathematics curriculum, including on-site workshops and shoulder-to-shoulder coaching.
The enVision Florida Mathematics program — created for print, digital, or blended instruction — uses interactive multimedia experiences to engage learners in student choice and dynamic problem solving, empowering them to take ownership of their understanding of mathematical ideas.
“This partnership will ensure that our teachers are knowledgeable in the materials they are teaching, but it will also build their confidence, earn buy-in and garner excitement for the materials to better help us retain these educators in the subject areas long term,” said Diana Fedderman, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the School District.
UPD Consulting, a change management organization that specializes in providing school districts with guidance and support to transform their operations to improve outcomes, has partnered with the School District of Palm Beach County on multiple prior projects, including supporting the District’s elementary literacy curriculum implementation through the Gates Foundation’s Florida Implementation Network.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the School District of Palm Beach County and Savvas Learning Company on this very exciting work that will enable new teachers to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure that high-quality curriculum, as designed, is what gets delivered, in practice,” said Douglass Austin, president & CEO of UPD Consulting.
Added Palm Beach County deputy superintendent Keith Oswald: “We are very honored that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation saw the potential in Palm Beach County schools to embrace a partnership that will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for all of our students and prepare them for post graduate success.”