4
Exemplary Programs

Key Points

  • Exemplary programs in California and elsewhere in the nation, several of which were described at the convocation, demonstrate that highly effective science education not only can be implemented but also has many benefits.

  • The Beckman@Science Program in Orange County has provided more than 1 million students with hands-on, inquiry-based science classes.

  • The Merck Institute for Science Education has improved the teaching and learning of science through an emphasis on student performance and participation, instructional practice, school culture, and district policies.

  • The Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform Program in Washington state has brought together the stakeholders involved in science education to pursue a multifaceted agenda of improvements.

  • The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has sought to strengthen science education through fellowships to undergraduate science majors intending to become teachers.

Throughout the convocation, attendees learned about K-8 science education programs that have met with notable success. Presentations on Beckman@Science, the Merck Institute for Science Education, the Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) Program in Washington state, and the Woodrow Wilson National



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 35
4 Exemplary Programs Key Points • xemplary programs in California and elsewhere in the nation, several of E which were described at the convocation, demonstrate that highly effec- tive science education not only can be implemented but also has many benefits. • he Beckman@Science Program in Orange County has provided more T than 1 million students with hands-on, inquiry-based science classes. • he Merck Institute for Science Education has improved the teaching and T learning of science through an emphasis on student performance and par- ticipation, instructional practice, school culture, and district policies. • he Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform Program in T Washington state has brought together the stakeholders involved in science education to pursue a multifaceted agenda of improvements. • he Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has sought to T strengthen science education through fellowships to undergraduate sci- ence majors intending to become teachers. T hroughout the convocation, attendees learned about K-8 science education programs that have met with notable success. Presenta - tions on Beckman@Science, the Merck Institute for Science Edu- cation, the Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) Program in Washington state, and the Woodrow Wilson National 

OCR for page 35
 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS Fellowship Foundation demonstrated the potential for innovative initia - tives to achieve the goals called for at the convocation. BECKMAN@SCIENCE1 In 1997, at the age of 97, chemist, industrialist, and philanthropist Arnold O. Beckman stated that he wanted to improve the way science was taught to young children because of his concern that the United States was losing its competitive edge in science. Beckman “wasn’t extremely fond of the textbook-only method of teaching science,” said Jacqueline Dorrance, the executive director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. He remembered vividly childhood experiments in his makeshift laboratory and felt that, by providing teachers with the tools they needed, students could have similar experiences. In cooperation with the community, California State University at Fullerton, the National Science Resources Center in Washington, DC, 2 the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California,3 the Exploratorium in San Francisco,4 and the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California,5 the Beckman Foundation created the Beckman@Science Program. The pro- gram fosters hands-on, inquiry-based science for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and emphasizes quality curriculum, professional development, inquiry-based materials, and community and administra - tive support. The program was offered to all of the schools and districts in Orange County for the first five years after the program was instituted in 1998. At the end of that period, 6 private schools and 15 school districts in Orange County had accepted the offer (see Figure 4-1). The foundation chose to work in Orange County for several reasons. First, that is where the foundation is headquartered, which enabled progress to be monitored more closely and in person. Second, Orange County is the fifth largest county in the nation, with more residents than 22 states, which means that the potential impact of the program could be enormous. Finally, Orange County has a very diverse population, with a higher proportion of English language learners than the state average. “We felt that if we were successful in Orange County, others might be encouraged by our 1PowerPoint slides from this presentation are available at http://www.nasonline.org/site/ DocServer/Dorrance_Panel_Presentation_-_final.pdf?docID=54995. Additional information about Beckman@Science can be found at http://www.beckman-foundation.com/@Science/ prog_info.htm. 2Additional information is available at http://www.nsrconline.org. 3Additional information is available at http://www.discoverycube.org. 4Additional information is available at http://exploratorium.edu. 5Additional information is available at http://www.ocean-institute.org.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS FIGURE 4-1 A map of Orange County, showing the school districts that are part of the Beckman@Science initiative. SOURCE: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Figure 4-1.eps success and we could serve asbitmapped those interested in improving a model for their science education programs,” said Dorrance. Since the program was begun, tens of thousands of teachers, principals, and administrators have taken part in Beckman@Science activities. They have been able to see firsthand the “the wonder, accomplishment, and excitement in the students’ expressions as they participated in hands-on science lessons,” said Dorrance. The program has worked hard to provide districts with a solid foun- dation to support sustainability of the initiative. Professional develop - ment has been a critical component of the program, reflecting the direct correlation between success in the classroom and the quality and quantity of professional development that teachers receive (Yoon et al., 2007). Since the program began, approximately 24,000 teachers have received

OCR for page 35
8 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS 23,54 4 Teachers Trained 50 00 4500 4,59 6 40 00 3,977 3500 Number of Teachers 3000 2,926 2500 2, 23 6 2,065 2, 29 9 20 00 1,891 1500 1,59 9 1,451 1000 50 4 50 0 0 19 98-9 9 199 9-00 20 00-01 2001-02 20 02-03 2003-04 20 04-0 5 200 5-06 2006-07 2007-08 Years FIGURE 4-2 Beckman@Science has provided more than 23,000 teacher profes- sional development sessions during the program’s first decade. SOURCE: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Figure 4-2.eps vector, editable professional development to promote hands-on, inquiry-based science scaled for portrait above in their classrooms (see Figure 4-2). These 24,000 teachers have, in turn, scaled more than 1 million hands-on, inquiry-basedline of caption for lkandscape below, assuming only one science lessons delivered since Beckman@Science began (see Figure 4-3). During the first five years of the program, the Beckman Materials Science Center offered professional development and material support to every public and private school. More than 11,000 teachers have partici- pated in the training offered at the Materials Science Center. These teachers were prepared to use more than 27 kit titles that were offered for grades K-6.6 In partnership with nearby colleges and universities, the program offered teachers courses on science content and on helping students pre- pare and maintain science notebooks. In addition, the program offered kit specialist and train-the-trainer courses, all geared to provide teachers with the highest quality professional development possible. 6For information about the specific materials used in the program, see http://www. beckman-foundation.com/@Science/prog_info.htm.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS 1,033,121 Students Taught with Kits 140,00 0 13 8,661 13 5,10 0 13 3,723 13 0,117 120,00 0 114,693 114,978 10 0,00 0 92,0 04 80,0 00 Number of Students 79,999 60,0 00 48,878 40,0 00 20,0 00 14,9 68 0 19 98-9 9 199 9-00 20 00-01 2001-02 20 02-03 2003-04 20 04-0 5 200 5-06 20 06-07 2007-08 Years F IGURE 4-3 M ore than 1 million inquiry-based kits have been used in Beckman@Science schools. SOURCE: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Figure 4-3.eps vector, editable Following their work at thefor portrait teachers were able to borrow scaled center, the above the scaled up to 12 weeks. The program trained approximately 150 teacher kits for for landscape below, assuming only one line of caption leaders, and 600 teachers received rigorous preparation in their districts in advanced inquiry strategies, which they could then disseminate among the other teachers in their districts. The Materials Science Center and indi- vidual districts also have hosted community science awareness nights, which have given thousands of people from all walks of life opportuni- ties to learn about and experience hands-on, inquiry-based science. The teachers, principals, administrators, students, and parents who have been inspired through these outreach efforts will help sustain the program in the long run, Dorrance observed. The Beckman Foundation offered each participating district up to 12 years of funding to be used exclusively for professional development, materials, and administrative and community support. The program also holds monthly meetings of coordinators for the districts, and these meet - ings have led to “lasting friendships, admiration, respect, and trust,” said Dorrance. The coordinators discuss challenges, share successes, and

OCR for page 35
0 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS exchange strategies for implementing, improving, and sustaining hands- on science instruction in their districts. In addition, principals’ breakfast meetings are held in the Beckman districts in which the principal and a parent organizer from each of the schools are invited to learn about high-quality, hands-on, inquiry-based science, share in the successes of their students and teachers, and discuss the challenges that their schools are facing. They are encouraged to con- tinue to provide the leadership support necessary by providing teachers with adequate time and opportunities for professional development. The districts “have learned their lesson well,” Dorrance said. All of the districts have established materials refurbishment systems that pro - vide teachers with hands-on, inquiry-based materials aligned to meet the California science standards. The purchasing, scheduling, delivery, and refurbishment of these materials have required substantial effort on the part of the districts. Without these systems in place, the program would probably fail, since teachers could not be expected to supply such materials on their own. The majority of the districts are using a mini - mum of two different science kits per grade level per year, with many using three. In 2008, a group of districts formed the Kids@Science Foun - dation,7 a not-for-profit organization dedicated to working with schools, districts, and communities to collaboratively promote, support, and enhance hands-on, inquiry-based science education for children. “The Beckman districts are serious about sustaining inquiry-based science education,” Dorrance said. To assess its effectiveness and make changes, the program has gathered data from a variety of sources, including an external evaluator, WestEd, district annual reports and strategic plans, site visits, test scores, and con - versations with teachers, students, parents, principals, and administra - tors. These evaluations have shown that teachers in the Beckman districts report changes in the way they teach science. Teachers have indicated that they have become more effective at teaching science, that their knowledge of scientific concepts has increased, and that they have become much more confident in teaching science. There also has been a notable difference in the depth of science being taught. For example, middle schools report that students exposed to Beckman@Science have a broader and deeper science foundation than before their exposure. Middle schools also say that they see an increase in students involved in extracurricular activities linked to science. 8 In 7A website is under construction but was not available at the time that this report was prepared. 8A recently published report (National Research Council, 2009) provides an extensive review of science learning in informal environments.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS addition, high school teachers report an increased number of students requesting science classes in participating districts. Teachers also have reported positive changes in their students related to science. They say that their students have found science more enjoy- able, interesting, and fun. They also say that students grasped and applied scientific concepts more easily. Students have become better observers, critical thinkers, communicators, and collaborative workers. The districts report that the quality of the science notebooks created by the students has increased and that the use of these notebooks reinforces the mathematics and literacy skills of students as well as improving their understanding of science. Parents report that science is now a topic of conversation at many dinner tables, according to Dorrance. Finally, California standardized test scores show that since 2005—the first year that California schools were tested in science—the Beckman@Science districts have outperformed the non-Beckman districts at both the county and state levels. The 2008 test scores reveal that 87 percent of Beckman districts scored at the proficient level or above compared with 30 percent of non-Beckman districts (see Figure 4-4). At the state level, 93 percent of the Beckman districts scored proficient or above compared with 50 percent of the non-Beckman districts. The Beckman@Science districts have faced and will continue to face challenges, Dorrance pointed out. The greatest challenge today is the ongoing state budget crisis, which is likely to result in layoffs of key administrators and teachers. Class sizes will increase and some teachers will change grade levels, which will require that they be given addi - tional professional development in the kits for their new grades. New and less experienced teachers and administrators will be hired and will require extensive training. And while this is occurring, the demand for this dynamic and innovative science program will continue to grow. “Dis- tricts will need to work together, as they have done in the past, to find creative solutions to these problems,” said Dorrance. Districts will need to work together as they have done in the past to find creative solutions to these problems. —Jacqueline Dorrance Following the presentations about Beckman@Science and the other exemplary programs described below, breakout groups explored the lessons to be learned from the programs. Reporting for one of two break - out groups that discussed Beckman@Science, Angelo Collins observed that such programs may require explicit exit strategies for participating

OCR for page 35
 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS 10 0 90 93 % Above 87 % Above 80 70 60 Percentage 50 5 0 % Above 40 30 30 % Above 20 10 0 20 07 - 2 0 08 Beckman Districts Non-Beckman Districts FIGURE 4-4 Districts participating in Beckman@Science scored at the proficient level and above at a much higher rate than for the country or state as a whole. SOURCE: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Figure 4-4.eps vector, editable schools and districts, since no grant lasts forever. No-cost extensions of current groups could help establish some of the “feathering down” pro- cesses that are needed. In addition, the breakout group suggested that programs like Beckman@Science need to maintain a focus on innova - tions that were not in the original plan. These innovations might include responding to needs that have emerged since the original plan was devel- oped, incorporating tools or knowledge that have become available since the original plan was prepared, or responding in new ways to knowledge gained as the original plan was implemented. Ideally, the funder-funded relationship focuses on the values embodied in a program and not on money, Collins observed. Whether seeking fund- ing, developing plans, evaluating activities, or reporting results, it is important for funders and program managers to highlight the outcomes sought and achieved by the program. And the creation and support of col- laborations are essential if programs are to enact meaningful change. Reporting for the second breakout group, Frank Frisch indicated that his group looked critically at the extent of involvement of politicians,

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS school boards, and other policy makers in science education programs. In some respects, science education needs to be “sacrosanct,” he said, so that it is treated as an essential element of K-12 education. Public advocacy for science education, perhaps by celebrities or other well-known public figures, could reinforce the message that science education is critical to the nation’s future. MERCK INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION The Merck Institute for Science Education was launched in 1993 as a separate not-for-profit organization by Roy Vagelos, who was chief executive officer. “The institute’s mission,” said its executive director, Carlo Parravano, “has been to improve the teaching and learning of sci- ence, with the ultimate goal being to improve student performance and engagement in science.” The institute began its work by creating partnerships with school districts in the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where Merck has a major presence. It originally focused on grades K-8; more recently it also has begun to work with high school teachers. Most of its funding has come from the Merck Company Foundation, with two additional grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) on local systemic change and on math/science partnerships. The institute has devoted a significant amount of effort to program evaluation. “We want to accumulate knowledge,” said Parravano. “We think about program evaluation as an integral part of every program that we design, and we also make a very strong effort to have all of the stakeholders involved in evaluating the program.” We think about program evaluation as an integral part of every program that we design. —Carlo Parravano An important tool in planning for program evaluation is a theory of action—a set of ideas underlying a program that can be tested, elabo - rated, and refined. Developing such a theory requires consensus on the desired results. It also can establish a relationship among the activities 9PowerPoint slides from this presentation are available at http://www.nasonline.org/site/ DocServer/Parravano_-_Beckman_Center_Presentation__April_29-30__20.pdf?docID=54985. Additional information about the Merck Institute for Science Education can be found at http://mise.org/mise/index.jsp.

OCR for page 35
 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS being planned and among the resources brought to bear on a project. And it helps organize and focus evaluations, because it brings to the surface what some of the research questions should be and what sources of data are available. Throughout its history, the institute has measured changes in four areas: student performance and participation, instructional practice, school culture, and district policies. These four areas have been examined using multiple sources of data, including standardized tests, enrollments, class - room observations, surveys, interviews, and case studies. Evaluations by such organizations as the Consortium for Policy Research in Education10 and Westat11 have included annual reports, formative evaluations, and four capstone reports that are on the institute’s website. One of the institute’s prominent achievements, according to these reports, has been the creation of a model of professional development for science education, which some school districts are now extending into mathematics and language arts. This model has produced high levels of teacher participation, high rates of change in instructional practice, wide - spread use of standards-based instructional materials, dramatic changes in student experiences, and, as Parravano put it, “unfortunately, modest changes on standardized tests.” Despite the test results, science remains a priority in the school districts, higher expectations have been established for all students, teacher expertise is highly valued, and district policies and strategies in areas like incentives and hiring have changed. In addition to evaluation, sustainability has been a key component of the institute’s efforts. (Chapter 5 discusses issues of program sustain - ability in detail.) According to Parravano, it is important for discussions of sustainability to take place throughout the life cycle of a program, from its early planning stages, to its modification, to its conclusion. In the past two years, for example, Merck’s formal commitment to the institute and an NSF grant were coming to an end. That transition forced a serious discus - sion about what aspects of its efforts the institute wanted to sustain—the focus on science, a particular approach to professional development, an emphasis on building capacity in schools, collaboration among schools and districts, or all of this. Through a review of the literature, the institute identified leadership and capacity as important factors in sustainability. It sought to answer the questions: Are there leaders in the districts who are knowledgeable about science education? Do they have a vision for science education? Can they articulate that vision? Are their policies aligned to support that vision? 10Additional information is available at http://cpre.org. 11Additional information is available at http://westat.com.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS Another important factor that affects sustainability, the institute found, is teacher engagement and efficacy. Do teachers have the requisite knowledge and skills? Are there ongoing opportunities for professional development? In addition, national and state policy environments are very impor- tant. Are assessments aligned with standards? Is there a commitment to reform among school principals and teachers? Do parents want to focus on improvements to science education? Are students engaged? Is student achievement improving? “The answers to these questions are critical,” according to Parravano. The institute has worked with districts to ensure the sustainability of science education programs by building leadership and capacity among teachers and principals. For example, as part of the Leader Teacher Insti- tute, teams of teachers from school buildings committed to three years of professional development—three weeks each summer and sessions during the academic year as well. The program produced facilitators in professional development: coaches, mentors, principals, curriculum reviewers, and so on who are now capable of sustaining reform. “If a new superintendent comes in and says, ‘Why are we focusing on science education to such an extent?’ these leader teachers are there to demand the same kind of attention to science as before.” Engaging teachers is also critical. The professional development pro - grams supported by the institute have been anchored in research while also relating directly to what teachers do in the classroom. The programs address in an integrated way curriculum, pedagogy, and learning, with plenty of attention to student needs and respect for participants’ time, expertise, and experience. The programs combine intensive offsite learn - ing with on-the-job professional development. As Parravano observed, “It’s not either/or that’s important, but a combination of both.” The institute also has tried to participate in discussions of statewide standards on curricula and professional development and has dissemi - nated research findings on teaching and learning from the National Acad- emies. That work “has paid off enormously,” according to Parravano. Merck has been supporting the institute’s work for more than 15 years, and the company has been “incredibly patient” as the institute has learned what works best. The company also has encouraged the institute to be focused, both geographically and on K-8 science education, which has added coherence to its work in districts and statewide. As with the Beckman@Science Program, the institute has faced challenges. The lack of quality assessments has been the greatest prob- lem, according to Parravano. Assessments need to speak to teachers, to students, and to the public, “and we really don’t have any of that right now.” Turnover of teachers and administrators, which requires

OCR for page 35
 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS the continual preparation of new participants in the program, also has been an issue. And, finally, Merck recently purchased another company, Schering-Plough, which means that the company will grow from 60,000 employees to more than 100,000. “There are definitely going to be signifi - cant changes,” Parravano said. “One of the challenges that we have is to make sure that Merck continues to value this kind of work.” Reporting from the breakout group that discussed the Merck Institute for Science Education, Greg Pearson detailed some of the many objec - tives that need to guide the development of better assessments. Different audiences need different kinds of data. Assessments need to demonstrate causal relationships whenever possible, but they also need to measure such indicators as “Are students asking better questions?” State require- ments can greatly affect assessments—for example by narrowing defini- tions of performance to short-term student achievement gains—but the institute and businesses can push for more meaningful tests. A long-term “improvement infrastructure” is needed at the district level to maintain the focus on better assessments. Pearson also reported on a breakout group discussion of whether to direct resources to expanding programs that have had demonstrated benefits. For example, the California Science Project12 is a small pro- gram that has had a major impact. But state policy leaders can overlook small programs that district and local leaders would identify as effective. Furthermore, little infrastructure exists that would allow resources and innovations to be imported into a district or school. Finally, Pearson’s breakout group noted the pressing need for a net- work model of system change and sustainability, as opposed to a linear or strictly hierarchical model of change. Other reform efforts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), such as those in Ohio and Texas,13 depend critically on networks. With networks, it is not pos- sible for a single stakeholder to stop progress because there is not a single gatekeeper and because of the interdependence of the stakeholders in the network. 12Additional information is available at http://csmp.ucop.edu/csp/index.php. 13These efforts are being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Addi- tional information about the initiative in Ohio is available at http://www.battelle.org/ spotlight/1-30-08stem.aspx. Information about the initiative in Texas is available at http:// poly.rpi.edu/article_view.php3?view=6648&part=1.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS WASHINGTON STATE LASER14 The Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) Program in Washington state is a public–private partnership that has brought together the full range of stakeholders in science education, according to its codirector Jeffrey Estes. Schools decide whether to partici- pate in the program, which is a project of the National Science Resources Center, an entity created by the National Academies and the Smithsonian Institution. Washington state is one of eight LASER sites that were selected as part of a 1999 NSF implementation and dissemination project. It is com- mitted to a blueprint for improvement based on standards, shared goals, classroom-tested curricula, professional learning experiences for teachers, data-driven decisions, material support, administrative and community support, and a “living” improvement plan. Results produced in part by the LASER Program, as measured by scores on standardized tests, vary greatly from district to district and from school to school, Estes observed. Nooksack, a small rural district near the Canadian border, has posted district-wide scores in science that are nearly 30 percentage points higher than the state average since becoming part of the program. But even in that district, the scores of the three elementary schools have increased at markedly different rates. “Although we’re try- ing to move things along across the state, and we’re trying to move things along as a district, we end up moving this along building by building,” said Estes. The LASER Program has learned to build on the strengths of indi- vidual schools and districts. For example, the Kennewick School District in southeastern Washington is well known for its attention to reading. This turned out to be an impediment to promoting science education, because district officials feared that an emphasis on science would detract from the focus on reading. However, the LASER Program helped district and school leaders think about how science might be an ideal partner for raising scores in reading. According to Estes, “You have to find what works in the school district.” You have to find what works in the school district. —Jeffrey Estes 14PowerPoint slides from this presentation are available at http://www.nasonline.org/site/ DocServer/Estes_WA_State_LASER_-_NAS_Convocation.pdf?docID=54984. Additional infor- mation about Washington State LASER Program can be found at http://www.wastatelaser. org.

OCR for page 35
8 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS The LASER Program adheres to a theory of action that involves knowledge of research, a shared vision, a supportive school and district infrastructure, and a focus on improving the teaching of science. Key individuals in leadership roles have proven to be critical in implement - ing this theory of action. These individuals have come not just from the education community but from the business community, higher educa - tion, and government. “We view ourselves as trying to catalyze sustainable improvements by providing an opportunity for schools that’s too good to refuse,” Estes said. The program strives to ensure that initiatives are based on current research, that they are visible and well understood in the state, that they are supported by a healthy mix of funding, and that leadership comes from multiple sectors. The program creates challenging goals for schools. “We keep pushing. We keep nurturing. We keep trying to help schools progress and translate those goals into day-to-day practices that make a difference for kids.” The program relies on a regional support system that is augmented by statewide assistance. It also involves a diverse set of partners from business, education, the nonprofit sector, and local communities. A major focus is the provision of products and services that amplify the effect of investments in science education. In addition, the program is involved in such areas as curriculum and assessment development, professional development, and community support. As one way to assess the effectiveness of these efforts, the LASER Program has sought to understand how the amount and quality of professional development has improved student learning. Using both end-of-unit assessments and statewide comprehensive assessments, the program has sought to relate results at the fifth and eighth grade levels to teacher professional development. The results of these assessments in turn have affected the design of the program. Changes in the program are linked with its sustainability. With the program in its second decade, its leaders are trying to figure out how the program can evolve to keep pace with changes occurring in the state. A par- ticular tension has been between science literacy for all and the need to fill the innovation needs of the state in the short term by producing university graduates in STEM fields. In resolving this tension, the program has had to pay attention to both tangible factors, such as instructional materials, professional development, and funding, and intangible factors, such as achieving a critical mass of activities and support, perceptions, and adapta- tion. “The key,” said Estes, “is to maintain the program’s core beliefs and values.” (These issues are discussed in greater detail in the next chapter.) The LASER Program also faces challenges. State standards have been revised and new assessments instituted. The state has a new superinten -

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS dent of public instruction, and the State Board of Education has assumed an increased role in science. Difficult economic circumstances are affect- ing the mix of public and private resources. And more work is needed to change public perceptions to embrace science as a “new basic.” The program will seek to overcome these challenges as it has in the past, said Estes—through intensive partnerships, reliance on a diverse set of stake - holders and funders, and the cultivation of leadership in key positions. “We look forward to the challenge,” said Estes. Reporting for the breakout group that discussed the Washington LASER Program, Rena Dorph listed some aspects of the program that are needed for sustainability. Fostering partnerships has been critical for the program’s success, especially in its use of people who can act as bridges across organizations. Involving business in public-private partnerships has been important, because it offers to business a way of demonstrating the returns on investments. In addition, five elements of the program provide tangible outcomes that people can understand: 1. Continuing investment and dialogue among partners, even as the roster of partners changes. 2. Establishing and nurturing a “culture” of partnership. 3. Building on previous efforts that stakeholders recognize as successful. 4. Providing clear explanations to stakeholder groups, such as parents, about the importance of the initiative. 5. Developing strategies to deal with the inevitable transitions of key personnel. The question of who leads the organization is especially important, Dorph noted, because LASER traditionally has been seen as outside the tradi- tional power structure and as a neutral convener of stakeholders. To ensure that professional development is ongoing and progressive, it is important to get a commitment from districts, especially those with resource constraints. It also is important to find people in the state who are highly qualified to offer professional development and to train new people to offer professional development over time. For the program to be maintained, its mission needs to fit with mis - sions of the lead organizations, so their support is a natural component of the program’s work. In addition, those organizations need to have a passion for the program’s mission and a sense of shared leadership and stewardship. Finally, any such program will face difficulties. Among the ones identified by the breakout group are finding the leadership to hold the partnership together, dealing with the turnover of leadership at all levels,

OCR for page 35
0 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS and empowering teachers to transfer what they learn from professional development to the classroom. WOODROW WILSON FOUNDATION15 The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has been awarding fellowships to students to attend graduate school since the end of World War II. Since Arthur Levine became president of the founda - tion in 2006, it also has emphasized the preparation of mathematics and science teachers. Under a program Levine initiated, prospective teachers with an undergraduate degree in science receive $30,000 to attend a one- year master’s program in teacher education. In return, they make a three- year commitment to teach in a high-needs school. They receive intensive mentoring to encourage them to remain in teaching. The foundation also has been working with universities to transform preservice teacher educa- tion in science and mathematics so that teachers are better prepared when they enter schools. The program is focused on the state level because “statewide pro - grams offer the most leverage,” according to Levine. The foundation chose to work with Indiana, which is the 19th largest state in the country. The program produces 80 mathematics and science teachers per year. “That’s not a lot,” Levine observed. “But the simple reality is that, with those 80 teachers, we will increase the number of teachers who are certified annually by 25 percent.” The foundation can have a much larger impact on a state like Indiana than on one like California, which hires approxi - mately 2,000 science teachers each year. In addition, small states offer economies of scale in terms of recruitment, placement, and assessment. A key element of the foundation’s success in Indiana was the estab - lishment of a statewide coalition that includes the highest echelons of state leadership to support mathematics and science education. In Indiana, the coalition consists of the governor, key members of the legis- lature, the chief state school officer, the state higher education executive officer, the university community, college and university presidents, fac- ulty, school superintendents, school boards, unions, the business com - munity, professional associations, and philanthropies. “That coalition was critical to us,” said Levine. “What it meant was that when the gov - ernor didn’t get reelected, the program didn’t die. . . . If the chief state school officer left, or the state higher education executive officer left, we still have the same coalition. We just have new players in it. Programs can persist if you build the right coalition.” 15Additional information about the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Program can be found at http://www.woodrow.org.

OCR for page 35
 EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS Programs can persist if you build the right coalition. —Arthur Levine The coalition in Indiana provided stability, joint responsibilities, and ownership of ideas, according to Levine. High-level representation on the coalition also provided a means of exerting pressure on parts of the science education system that need to change. For example, the governor could press for changes in the state university system through both formal and informal channels. “The sticks are as powerful as the carrots,” Levine said. Funding from the foundation provided another incentive for change, with requirements for matching funds ensuring commitment on the part of educational institutions. Reforming science education in elementary and middle schools will require many changes, Levine said. Universities must prepare more sci- ence teachers. Salary bonuses may be needed to recruit quality teachers to all schools. Professional development for practicing teachers needs to increase in quantity and quality. More facilities and equipment are needed. One important step, said Levine, echoing advice from Clark Kerr when he headed the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Educa- tion (1980), is “put a number on it.” Instead of saying that new teachers are needed, say 300 new elementary school teachers are needed. Instead of saying that the curriculum must improve, say that a new fourth grade curriculum in the physical sciences is needed. Many groups are focusing on better teacher education, including universities, school districts, not-for-profit organizations, such as Teach for America, state governments, the federal government, and for-profit organizations like the American College of Education. The Wilson Foun- dation has chosen to work largely with universities on teacher education, because universities still prepare the large majority of teachers. Universi - ties also can sustain programs once those programs are established. And universities are the centers of scientific disciplines, and association with these disciplines can provide solid content for science teachers. The foundation also has told universities that it wants to focus on outcomes, for both teachers and students. In addition, programs need to combine the arts and sciences and education, drawing strengths from different departments. The foundation wants third-party assessments of university programs and their outcomes. This clarity of expectations helps the universities and the foundation know what is important, in return for funding the fellowships and separate funding to reform university curricula. The existence of the coalition also encourages change, in that

OCR for page 35
 NURTURING AND SUSTAINING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS members of the coalition could both reward and punish universities for cooperating or resisting change. The task is often difficult for universities, Levine said. For example, Ball State University, the largest producer of teachers in Indiana, broke its teacher education program into modules that it embedded in field expe - riences for future teachers. It created residencies for teachers to work on program design and residencies for professors in schools so they could spend time teaching in the schools in which they were preparing teachers to work. “We’ve told [the universities] that the whole world of science has changed. The whole world of math has changed. What we expect of schools is very different than we used to expect from them. We need a new coterie of science teachers and math teachers. What we want you to do is join us and let’s invent that future together.” The foundation expected a memorandum of understanding signed by the president of the university, the school board, and the superintendent that included dates and deliverables. Funding for curriculum reform then hinges on meeting those dates and deliverables. For example, the universities “had 21 months to change their entire programs before any fellows arrived. If they hadn’t changed the program, they got no fellows.” In addition, vertical integration was emphasized. Recruitment, prepara - tion, placement, retention, and professional development were tied into a single program instead of being reformed one by one. “In the years ahead, we have the capacity to obtain the science edu- cation the children in our nation need,” said Levine. “But achieving this goal requires moving with alacrity, establishing explicit roles for each stakeholder in the system, and instituting coalitions of the key actors in each state.” We have the capacity to obtain the science education the children in our nation need. But achieving this goal requires moving with alacrity, establishing explicit roles for each stakeholder in the system, and insti - tuting coalitions of the key actors in each state. —Arthur Levine