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A quarter century of PDS success

USC College of Education is a nationally-accredited Professional Development School institution with 15 P-12 partnerships

The college's 15 Professional Development Schools have emphasized shared professional development and research, on-site pre-service teacher education, and a commitment of resources to teacher education for a quarter century now.

As of 2015, the college PDS partnerships include 10 elementary schools — Bridge Creek, Horrell Hill, Irmo, Killian, Lake Carolina, Meadowfield, North Springs, Oak Point, Pontiac, and Rice Creek; two middle schools — Blythewood and Hand; and three high schools – Blythewood, Dreher, and Lower Richland. Of these schools, Horrell Hill, Meadowfield, Pontiac and Dreher have been with the PDS program since its inception in 1990. By participating in a PDS, teachers are exposed to the latest pedagogical models and training.

This collaboration is renowned for preparing new teachers, fostering faculty development, and conducting inquiry directed to improve practice that ultimately accelerates student comprehension and achievement in the renewal of P-12 schools and education of educators. 

Strategic interactive partnerships between professional higher education programs and P–12 schools constitute a Professional Development School. In 2015, the College of Education's university-school partnership network includes 12,495 P-12 students, 170 USC interns, 1,298 professional faculty and staff in PDS schools. Currently there are 29 supervisors who completed USC Supervisor/ADEPT training to support interns, coaching teachers, and school administrators within 15 PDS sites.

This network provides clinical placements for teacher candidates implemented annually with the college's pre- and in-service teacher candidates at the elementary level, mid-level, or within high school department programs. Working with P-12 students provides teacher candidates the opportunity to develop teaching skills and meet university course requirements. Liaisons are college faculty or former educators who visit PDS sites up to 15 hours a week. Liaisons also supervise advanced practicum students and teaching interns, in addition to offering PDS faculty professional development opportunities based in their interest, need or resource requirements (assessment, literacy, book study, professional development or classroom management projects).

In the 2014-15 academic year, the college's Office of Clinical Experiences placed teacher candidates in 104 different schools. In Internship I/A, 283 candidates completed up to 2.5 days per week working with all aspects of teaching and conducting two or more lessons throughout the semester in a coaching teacher's classroom. In the Internship II/B/Directed Teaching, 376 candidates dedicated four months in a coaching teacher's classroom as a full-time student teacher. These experiences, referred to as clinicals or internships, are not only a graduation requirement for teacher candidates, but also a key strength of the college's educator program. USC's PDS network is a vital part of this collaboration with local schools in preparing teacher candidates.

By incorporating three key elements of NCATE's Blue Ribbon Panel Report, the college's teacher education efforts with P-12 districts and schools emphasize clinical practice through a diverse range of experiences, generate data-driven, outcomes-based assessments that critique performance and demonstrate accountability of teacher candidates in the teacher education program. This closed-loop system not only ensures the preparation of high-quality teachers, but also meets the needs of our families, schools and communities.