The ACCELA Alliance professional development programis
unlike other programs in a number of ways. First, the theoretical
perspective informing the work of ACCELA is grounded in
a critical, praxis-oriented understanding of teaching, learning,
assessment, and school change (see ACCELA
Research). This perspective highlights the necessity
for educators to draw on students’ linguistic and
cultural resources in designing curriculum and instruction,
reflecting on assessment practices, and developing students’
abilities to use school-based literacy practices to accomplish
academic, social, and political work that matters to them
and the communities to which they belong.
Second, all ACCELA courses are offered on-site within local
schools and community organizations. These courses are organized
in part around participants’ emerging and evolving
research questions about their work in their community and/or
student learning in their classrooms.
Third, the activities of the ACCELA Alliance are data-driven.
Specifically, participants are supported in conducting inquiry
projects by UMass faculty and doctoral students, who assist
them with developing research questions responsive to local
issues, collecting and analyzing various kinds of qualitative
and quantitative data, and creating action plans for future
work. Data sources include scholarly literature, interviews
with community members, surveys, digital video of teaching
and learning practices, transcriptions of classroom interactions,
samples of students’ work, and classroom, district,
and state assessment data.
Last, members of the ACCELA Alliance regularly present their
analyses of various kinds of data to their colleagues, principals,
and other stakeholders as part of their ACCELA course work
and their participation in regional and national conferences.
These presentations allow participants to reflect on the
implications of their work for student learning and to build
on their collective efforts to act as change-agents (see