Del Prado Hill, P. and Garas-York, K., Eds. (2021).  The impact of PDS partnerships in challenging times.  Charlotte, NC:  Information Age Publishing. 233 pp, web-pricing:  $39.09 PPB, $73.09 HC.

Reviewed by Alison L. Rutter, East Stroudsburg University of PA, Book Review Co-Editor

While descriptions of PDS abound, relatively few attempts have been made at assessing the impact of PDS.  Not since Carole Basile’s edited text, Intellectual capital: Intangible assets of Professional Development Schools (2009), describing the partnership work at University of Colorado-Denver, has a PDS looked so inwardly to re-define the meaning of impact, to broaden the parameters of how PDSs assume challenges and address the needs of a variety of stakeholders.  This collection of case studies from SUNY Buffalo State succeeds in not only assessing the impact, but in ecologically finding measures that capture the true nature of our work, going beyond the traditional measures of quantitative, high stakes assessments of student achievement.  This text analyzes in six broad themed sections the impact of the work of the exemplary SUNY Buffalo State’s 45+ PDS relationships over its three decades of practice.

The book’s editorial team outlined the connections between this text, its measures of impact, and the NAPDS Nine Essentials as well as linking them to CAEP standards and their own internal framework.  While only Part I focuses specifically on the theme of mutually beneficial practice, the entire book exemplifies this core ideal.  This is a book addressing the impact of this PDS, but also the impact of the idea of PDS.  By linking this PDS’s efforts to the core essentials, the authors reinforce the overall values of partnership, community, collaboration, inquiry and mutuality of purpose.

One metaphor often associated with PDS is that of a well-tended garden, rich with diversity which complements and balances in its design.  This book and the PDS it depicts exemplify this metaphor.  The impact of a garden is not counted in individual plantings or the comparative height of the plantings, but in the way it meets its purpose with balanced composition, variety of textures and colors, and overall lushness of flora working together, created with design and care.  This book shares with us the many ways Buffalo State has taken extreme care in nurturing its “garden” over time, providing the nutrients of teacher development and leadership, funding and inspired innovation to keep it healthy to grow and flourish into its mature bounty of experiences.  The perennial practices of working with teacher candidates, classroom teachers, and various teaching models support the overall structure by example and are enriched by the focal points of the exotics – the international and virtual PDS that encourage increased innovation.  Just as a gardener needs to attend to the needs of plants growing through their own life cycles, SUNY Buffalo State has faced the challenges of their PDS over time and across a broad spectrum of needs and stakeholders.  Some of the cases use more established forms of empirical research to do so, while others rely on a variety of qualitative reflections, interviews and artifacts to exhibit their effect.  As with someone viewing a garden, the variety of offerings encourages greater inspection.  The breadth of this PDS belies the mature garden.  From special education, to reading to music, ELL, math, STREAM and more, the reader is dazzled.  The authors’ ability to collaborate across departments and platforms encourages new thinking, new ways to problem solve and means to highlight those coming of age.  It is evident that some ideas have disseminated from others, creating new generations of growth.  Using a similar structure, each of these case studies presents a different vantage point, or perspective, on how to view the impact of the overall PDS and how effective they are as a whole.  The challenge and impact is shared “At-a-Glance” within each case and then analyzed overall in the final chapter.  This simple framework un-mistakenly shows the breadth and depth of its impact for various stakeholders.  Individually, the case studies exceed expectation as examples of work at its peak, but as a whole this PDS garden is stunning. 

In at least two of the chapters the idea of recruiting new teachers from the PDS and “growing their own” through the Urban Teaching Academy hints of the next generation of impact.  This final analysis leaves the reader hoping for the possibility of a next volume – how has this garden taken seed and re-seeded itself in new generations of teachers, administrators and faculty — new PDS partnerships.

A key to this book’s design is its very readable text written for all PDS audiences.  It includes little educational jargon.  Lay people curious about PDS and partnership work would feel as at ease in reading it as more traditional educational researchers.  It would be suitable reading for new PDSs looking for ideas and possibilities as well as mature PDSs hoping for an infusion of new growth and innovation.  It could also be used by doctoral classes in educational research as a means for encouraging innovative thinking about research and impact.  Additionally, this would be ideal for a book study group across a PDS or to bring a network together.

This is a very well-constructed, well-written text that holds together throughout the many chapters and sections.  The editors wisely established a format to be followed throughout each chapter so the audience knows what to expect from each case.  Its consistency and overall coherence speak to the valuable work being done in this PDS and hope for similar work across our world of school-university partnerships.  This book is recommended as a must read. 

Basile, C. (2009).  Intellectual capital: Intangible assets of Professional Development Schools.  Albany, NY: SUNY Press.