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Improving Learning in Albany City Schools, Collaboratively

Albany, NY (January 6, 2016) – The Building Learning Communities to Improve Student Achievement project, also known as the Teacher Leader Quality Partnership (TLQP), has received additional funding through 2018 from the New York State Education Department, with Cheryl Dozier, project director and associate professor in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning.

This new grant cycle for $200, 000 annually extends two earlier grant initiatives through 2018.Now in its seventh year, a UAlbany – City School District of Albany collaboration has brought increased participation and engagement of district teachers and paraprofessionals, along with University faculty and students.

UAlbany educator Cheryl Dozier
TLQP project director Cheryl Dozier (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

Most of all, however, the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are bringing a range of educational experiences to increase engagement with learning for a growing number of the city’s elementary school children.

In its current grant cycle, the Delaware Community School became a fourth core participant, along with the Albany School of Humanities, Montessori Magnet School, and Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology. The PLCs within each school focus on developing content knowledge and pedagogical practices of teacher leaders, teachers and paraprofessionals, based on identified student, school, and district needs and interests.

The long-term goal of the TLQP is to create a model of embedded, school-centered professional development that improves student learning and will be sustainable as well as replicable in schools across the Albany school district and other school districts across the state.

Dozier said that, over the past six years, the teachers in the project have identified increased engagement with learners, increased experiences with the arts and mindfulness, and dedicated book-of-the-month studies for an entire school. “We have seen community gardens flourish, expanded environmental initiatives, and increased use of technology,” she added. “Students and teachers have been introduced to and engaged with award winning authors and illustrators.”

The varied subject concentrations of the four schools has also resulted in special opportunities. “We find that each building brings a unique perspective to the grant and focuses the teacher leaders’ engagement around their core themes.”

UAlbany’s participation includes a range of professors from the School of Education and the College of Arts & Sciences — including faculty from Biology, Geography, Literacy Teaching and Learning, and Educational Theory and Practice. “Professors work with schools based on teacher leaders’ articulated needs,” said Dozier.

Also participating are staff from the Capital Area School Development Association, an outreach arm of the School of Education and an area leader in school improvement since 1949, and UAlbany graduate students.

“Our graduate students have enriched the partnership by providing professional development, organizing and arranging events, and engaging with teacher leaders’ identified needs, said Dozier. “TLQP also provides our doctoral students with opportunities to engage in local schools and explore instructional practices, pedagogical decision-making, and implementations of district and state wide policies.”

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