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4 Initiatives by Federal Agencies Major Points in Chapter 4 The Science Education Partnership Award program at the National Institutes of Health relies on partnership organized around inquiry-based curricula to increase the scientific and health literacy of the U.S. public and to promote careers in the health sciences. A variety of programs at the National Science Foundation, both in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and elsewhere in the foundation, support the education and professional development of chemistry teachers. Taking advantage of the laboratories it supports across the United States, the Department of Energy specializes in helping chemistry teachers and students gain hands-on experiences. Though assessing the effectiveness of educational activities remains challenging, programs can make progress by relying on standardized instruments and by teaming with evaluation experts. Many federal agencies have programs directed toward K- THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: 12 education that affect chemistry education either directly PARTNERSHIPS FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION or indirectly. Several presenters at the workshop described Since 1991 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has examples of these programs and summarized available evi- sponsored the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) dence about their impacts on teacher and students While the program to increase the scientific and health literacy of the programs represent just a small sample of all the federal pro- U.S. public and to promote careers in the health sciences grams focused on K-12 education, they demonstrate many of among groups that have historically been underrepresented the strengths and weaknesses of federal initiatives. in those fields, including urban, rural, African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and female students. The pro- gram seeks to create partnerships organized around inquiry- based curricula between scientists or clinicians and educa- 18
INITIATIVES BY FEDERAL AGENCIES 19 tors, community organizations, and science centers. The based, so students engage in learning processes that are not underlying concept, said L. Tony Beck, a program officer necessarily present in typical science classes. They âhave to at NIHâs National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), learn to work in teams of kids they wouldnât normally hang is to avoid having âa clinician or a scientist in a university out with,â said Beck. âThey have to write coherent sentences. create something, take it to the school, and say, âTrust us, They have to understand chemistry, statistics, math.â this will work.ââ Teacher professional development is an important part of The topic of a SEPA project can be anything related to the SEPA program. More than half of the projects feature at NIH-funded research. Past awards have focused on subjects least one or two weeks of professional development, typi- ranging from aging to epidemiology to vaccine development cally during the summer. Many of the projects are in inner- to environmental health. Also, SEPA projects generally have city schools, and because the projects are for K-12 students, to target state and local standards that are in place, so they the teachers reached by the program include elementary not only augment the curriculum but in some cases can and middle school as well as high school teachers. âMost of replace it. them didnât have much science in high school,â said Beck. Projects are funded at $250,000 for each of five years. âThey have to learn the content and they have to learn the Phase 1 consists of development and evaluation of the pedagogical skills.â project, with a second phase involving the development, Evaluation of projects is also a critical part of the program. implementation, and evaluation of effective strategies for At least 10 percent of each budget needs to be spent on dissemination. The program increased in size substantially evaluationâ$25,000 per year at minimum. Evaluation plans in the late-1990s when Representative John Porter essentially also have to be part of the original proposal, and the evalua- tripled the budget so that it could begin to serve science tion needs to be conducted during the entire duration of the centers and museums. A wide variety of institutions have project. External evaluators are required unless the use of an projects, including medical centers, universities, colleges, institutionally based evaluator can be justified. Furthermore, community colleges, research institutions, nonprofit orga- as the emphasis in the evaluation of educational programs nizations, and public and private school systems. NIH and has shifted toward greater reliance on quasi-experimental and NCRR directors have been very supportive of the program experimental designs, the SEPA projects also have moved in and have kept its budget stable, despite current pressures on this direction. Five years ago, very few projects had approval NIH funding. from institutional review boards (IRBs) for evaluation plans, Different projects have different goals. Some are focused which generally is required for randomized controlled trials on students who would not normally think of going to col- or comparison group studies. Now approximately half of the lege. Others, such as the projects run through science centers classroom-based programs do have IRB approval. In addi- and museums, are designed to reach out to the broader public. tion, the focus of the last two annual meetings for the SEPA For example, a SEPA project at Yale includes a family night program has been evaluation. that features an introduction to research on Lyme disease, the Beck described a particular evaluation of a project by use of microscopes to look at various types of ticks, and an Nancy Moreno and her colleagues at the Baylor College of opportunity to enroll in clinical trials studying the disease. Medicineâs Center for Educational Outreach. The evaluation The program currently has 60 to 70 projects, with a near- tracked the performance of students in classes taught by term goal of funding 80 projects. Many of the projects are teachers who attended one or more professional develop- in states that do not receive large amounts of NIH funding, ment sessions in the summers. The evaluation showed that it which promotes the programâs goal of increasing the publicâs takes several years after the initial professional development understanding of and support for NIH-funded research. experience before a substantial impact appears in the schools, âWeâre gradually expanding the range of the SEPA program, and the impact is greater after several years of professional [which] brings this kind of opportunity to a range of students development sessions. and communities,â said Beck. Considerable anecdotal evidence also points to the suc- Many of the SEPA projects have developed Web sites, cess of projects funded by the SEPA program, Beck said. As some of which have won national awards. The national one student wrote following a session in a mobile laboratory Web site (http://www.ncrrsepa.org) offers a way to search that travels from community to community in a bus, âThis is for programs by state, principal investigator, or educational more fun than shopping at the mall because at the mall you focus. For example, searching on Washington, DC, leads to canât have your DNA in a little tube.â an exhibit on infectious diseases at the Marian Koshland Sci- ence Museum of the National Academy of Sciences. THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF): Although the classroom projects supported by SEPA IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TEACHERS generally are focused on the biomedical sciences, students are exposed to a broad range of scientific and mathematical âEducationâand particularly teacher educationâis content as part of the lessons. Also, the learning is inquiry- becoming a huge thing at NSF,â said Joan Prival, a program
20 STRENGTHENING HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY EDUCATION director of NSFâs Directorate for Education and Human Many DEHR programs address STEM teacher educa- Resources (DEHR). NSF programs for science teachers have tion, some directly and some more peripherally. The largest five broad goals: increasing content knowledge, improving such program is the Math and Science Partnership program, pedagogical skills, enabling teachers to engage all students, which fosters collaborations between STEM faculty in col- enhancing their conceptual understanding, and helping them leges and universities and K-12 school districts. Teacher retain understanding. NSF pursues these goals through a quality, quantity, and diversity are major objectives of the research and development effort designed to advance knowl- program. Individual projects, which incorporate evidence- edge and to further the preparation of K-12 teachers of sci- based design and outcomes, feature challenging courses ence, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In and curricula for teachers. Also, âthese are large grants, and addition, NSFâs programs encompass the entire continuum we expect institutional change at both the school district of a teaching career, from recruitment of new teachers to level and the institution of higher education,â Prival said. In pre-service education to induction to continuing professional some ways, these projects draw inspiration from the teacher development. âItâs a lifetime experience, and we have a num- institutions NSF sponsored in the 1960s, but they want to ber of programs that head into teacher education at various do more than influence individual teachers. For one, the points in the continuum,â said Prival. program is designed for teachers to become leaders in their Many previous NSF reports and programs have addressed districts. âThey go to an intense residential, or in most cases the importance of meeting the demand for highly quali- semiresidential, institute for a couple of years, and then fied STEM teachers, reducing attrition, and broadening they go back to their school district as teacher leaders,â said participation in STEM teaching to groups that have been Prival. âThey have all kinds of responsibilities in working underrepresented in those fields. The programs are based in with the other teachers in their building. And weâre looking existing research and practice, including the knowledge and to impact student learning in the whole building, not just in experience in teacher education built up at NSF over more the classroom of the teacher who participated.â than half a century. A program designed to bring people into teaching who Teacher education in STEM seeks to prepare K-12 teach- have very strong content knowledge is the Robert Noyce ers who are proficient in STEM concepts and topics, confi- Teacher Scholarship program. The program supports people dent in their own grasp of STEM content, lifelong learners of who are majoring in chemistry or other scientific disciplines this content, aware of rapidly changing disciplinary content, in college to become K-12 teachers through scholarships able to guide and assess STEM learning in age-appropriate and stipends. Future teachers agree that for every year of a ways, confident in the use of cyber-enabled tools, prepared to scholarship they will work two years in a high-need district. engage an increasingly diverse student population, and sup- The program also targets people who are changing careers ported by STEM faculty, in collaboration with teacher edu- by supporting their preparation in a teacher credentialing cation faculty and practitioners. This last point is especially program. âItâs not enough that they know the content,â said important, said Prival, because STEM faculty at colleges and Prival. âThey need to learn how to convey that excitement universities are a critical part of the education community; and the knowledge thatâs associated with their field.â in fact, many DEHR programs require that STEM faculty be Discovery Research K-12 is another large program at involved in educational projects. NSF that supports research about, and the development and Teacher education in STEM requires a research base that implementation of, innovative resources, models, and tech- can serve as a foundation for improved teacher education nologies for use by students, teachers, and policy makers. models. For this reason, DEHR has a strong research program Assessment, public literacy, workplace readiness, and cyber- that addresses such issues as teacher preparation, induction, enabled learning are emphasized in the program. and professional development. The directorate also requires A program that features resources specific to chemistry that teacher education programs have a rigorous evaluation education is the National Science Digital Library (http://nsdl. component that measures outcomes in terms of increased org). In addition, the ChemEd Digital Library (http://www. production of well-qualified teachers, knowledge and dis- chem1.com/chemed) has links to many chemistry education semination of proven strategies, and evidence of a relation- resources. ship between teacher education components and improved Other DEHR programs that have an influence on STEM K-12 student learning. The directorate does not require that teacher education include the NSF Graduate Teaching Fel- a certain percentage of a grant be spent on education. Rather, lows in K-12 Education (GK-12) program; the Advanced the evaluation component is part of the intellectual merit Technological Education (ATE) program; the Course, Cur- that is considered in reviewing a proposal. Evaluation also is riculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program; the connected to the dissemination plan included in a proposal, Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engi- âbecause if youâre going to be disseminating anything thatâs neering (REESE) program; and the Louis Stokes Alliances worthwhile, people are going to ask how do you know and for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. For example, whatâs the evidence.â the GK-12 program trains and then places graduate fellows
INITIATIVES BY FEDERAL AGENCIES 21 in K-12 classrooms so they can bring their research expertise to students. 50 45 Outside of DEHR, other NSF programs have a substantial Division of Elementary, 40 Secondary, and Informal influence on teacher education. Katharine Covert, a program Education 35 officer in NSFâs Division of Chemistry, described some of Division of Chemistry Percent of Awards 30 the ways in which the research supported by the Directorate 25 for Mathematical and Physical Sciences is integrated with 20 efforts to support teacher learning. 15 The Division of Chemistry has about 1,500 research 10 grants active at any given time, with an annual budget of 5 about $200 million. A recent inventory of these grants 0 showed that their educational components fall into a number Mentor/Tutor/Train Activities/Camps Experiences for Lab work for Student Workshop Visits/Demos Development Workshop Teacher Curri./Mod. Students of discrete categories: teacher workshops, research experi- Research Teachers Class Special ences for teachers, student workshops, laboratory experi- ences for students, providing help for science fair projects, judging science fairs, classroom visits or demonstrations, mentoring and training teachers and students, tours of labs, FIGURE 4.1 An estimated comparison of NSF outreach activities working with science museums, science camps, and cur- conducted in July 2006, shows that the Division of Chemistry New 4-1 riculum and module development. conducts more outreach programs focused on research experiences Not surprisingly, said Covert, a particular area of expertise and direct mentoring, while the Division of Elementary, Secondary, within the Division of Chemistry is providing teachers and and Informal Education devotes more attention to workshops and special activities for students and teachers. SOURCE: Covert, K. students with research experiences and visits to laboratories. 2008. K-12 Outreach Supported by NSF Chemistry. Presentation to A comparison of outreach activities sponsored by the Divi- Chemical Sciences Roundtable, Washington, DC, August 4, 2008. sion of Chemistry and the Division of Elementary, Second- ary, and Informal Education showed that the former engaged in more classroom visits, research experiences for teachers and students, and mentoring and training, while the latter Partnerships will be an important way to carry out evalua- specialized more in curriculum development and teacher tions of programs within STEM departments, Prival pointed workshops (Figure 4.1). out in the question-and-answer session. New activities can be Evaluation of outcomes is an âAchillesâ heelâ within added to existing evaluation programs, and discipline-based the Division of Chemistry, said Covert, partly because the programs can partner with researchers in other academic programs are so variable. âThese are community-driven departments who are skilled in evaluations. programs, and even within the teacher workshops each is The Division of Chemistry makes grants only to faculty unique.â Awards from the division go to chemistry research- members in STEM departments at colleges and universities, ers who âare not necessarily conversant with modern educa- not to K-12 teachers or to K-12 schools or districts, Prival tional evaluation tools.â There are exceptions of course, and pointed out in response to another question. Yet faculty the division strongly encourages ongoing evaluation. How- members often use part of their grants to work with teachers ever, most of the evaluations take the form of questionnaires or schools, in part to achieve the broader impacts sought by that are focused on the experience rather than outcomes. NSF. Furthermore, faculty members often are interested in âThe idea of a more scholarly evaluation that looks at the evaluating the impact of these activities to include in their classroom impact is daunting,â said Covert. âWe proceed reports to NSF. with a lot of goodwill, a lot of energy, a lot of wonderful anecdotes, and not a lot of hard outcomes.â THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: NSF evaluates all research proposals based on their intel- CREATING TEACHER SCIENTISTS lectual merit and their âbroader impactsâ on important soci- etal goals. The conversation within the foundation, spurred An important part of the Department of Energyâs (DOEâs) in part by congressional attention to the issue, is transition- work in education is directed toward K-12 teachers, espe- ing from âwhat are these impactsâ to âhow do we track and cially toward middle school and high school teachers of sci- assess them.â NSF has set as a goal to deepen the under- ence. âA lot of our emphasis is on educators, because we see standing of these so-called broader impacts and to study the this as giving us maximal leverage in the K-12 arena,â said effectiveness of research activities in achieving them. This Jeffery Dilks of DOEâs Office of Workforce Development can be difficult to do with a large collection of relatively for Teachers and Scientists. âWe reach one teacher, and one small projects, but each part of NSF is being challenged to teacher reaches many students, rather than addressing one evaluate the full range of outcomes of its activities. student at a time.â
22 STRENGTHENING HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY EDUCATION A recent report from Dilksâ office established a national before the first year to establish a baseline against which to goal of enhancing the ability of educators and the nationâs measure changes. educational systems to teach science and mathematics. Pri- The scores on these assessments do not necessarily lend orities are to (1) enhance the capability of K-16 mathematics themselves to evaluations of the program, Dilks said. For and science educators to boost student achievement in sci- example, it may be more important for a teacher to realize ence and mathematics and provide a rich learning experi- over the course of a summer that he or she scores a 3 on a ence for students; (2) expand participation of women and scale rather than a 4. âThe core of our assessment process underrepresented groups in the science-driven U.S. innova- is to get teachers to be reflective and to think about what tion system; (3) develop and support programs for students they do.â who wish to pursue science and technology careers at every DOE puts about 150 teachers a year through 10 to 12 of its step of the learning process; and (4) identify the appropriate laboratoriesâan average of 15 teachers per laboratoryâand roles and responsibilities for federal science and technology the program could perhaps be expanded to 20 teachers per mission agencies in STEM workforce development, commu- year per laboratory. However, there are hundreds of federal nicate these roles to all stakeholders, and serve as a catalyst laboratories that are associated with the missions of federal for their involvement. agencies, many of them located in places that could reach In particular, DOEâs expertise is in experiential learn- out to more teachers than can the DOE labs. If each of these ing, Dilks said. âWhether itâs undergraduates or teachers or laboratories were able to take on 15 teachers, âyouâre starting graduate students, we take them out of their classroom setting to talk some real numbers,â said Dilks. In addition, industry and we place them into a laboratory and make them part of a could run similar programs in its labs. âThis is a scalable research team to learn what research is all about.â The goal is model if people cooperate.â for teachers to take this experience back to their classrooms Unlike most federal agencies, DOE has statutory author- and translate it into something meaningful to their students, ity to accept private funds to support its educational efforts, whether motivational, curricular, or pedagogical. DOE does though the authority has been used very little so far. DOE not mandate how teachers should use that experience. Rather, therefore can partner with private industry to develop coop- DOE seeks to give them the tools to change what happens in erative ventures in delivering outreach to teachers. the classroom. âWe want to change the way teachers think In the question-and-answer period, Dilks was asked about science so they can change the way that their students how DOE reconciles its goal of attracting more females think about science.â into science with the federal mandate to be inclusive in its DOE runs both pre-service and in-service programs educational programs. Dilks replied that the goal is to cre- for teachers. The largest in-service program is the DOE- ate environments that are receptive to all so that programs Academies Creating Teacher Scientists (ACTS) program. provide an encouraging atmosphere for young women. It requires a three-year commitment from the teacher and is Dilks also stated that DOE is seeking to develop an evalu- housed at a DOE laboratory. It is a residential program where ation that would measure changes in student understanding the teacher lives at a laboratory for four to eight weeks, with that result from its programs. One complication in any a housing allowance, travel expenses, and a stipend. The such assessment is that there are many layers between the teachers are integrated into a research team. Also, using an program and measures of student performance, he pointed electronic portfolio, they create a professional development out. Another complication is that student scores on many plan that outlines what they wish to accomplish over their standardized tests are difficult to access directly, making it three years in the program. The portfolio enables them to difficult to connect a test score with the practices of a par- report back to program organizers about the changes they ticular teacher. have made in the classroom. Also during the question-and-answer session, Kaye Storm The teachers take a content knowledge self-awareness of Stanford University recounted the experience of a teacher survey before their first laboratory experience, at the end fellowship program that has been operating at Columbia Uni- of their first year, and again at the end of all three years. versity for many years. New York State has data available for In particular content areas, the teacher rank themselves on the exam pass rates for students of teachers who have been a five-point scale, from very knowledgeable to not knowl- through this program versus a comparison group. Although edgeable at all. For example, they might be asked how much the sample size is small, the scores are higher for teachers they know about the fundamental structure of atoms and who have gone through the program. molecules. They also take a professional practices inventory THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: CREATING TEACHER LEADERS Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists. 2007. Brookhaven National Laboratory, one of 17 national labo- Future Workforce Development. Washington, DC: Office of Science, De- ratories run by the Department of Energy, has approximately partment of Energy.
INITIATIVES BY FEDERAL AGENCIES 23 2,700 employees on a 5,000-acre campus on Long Island. It A particular emphasis of the Brookhaven program is on also provides approximately 4,000 guest researchers each creating teacher leaders. By the third year of involvement year with access to instruments that no other institution with the program, many teachers feel they are ready to use can provide, including the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, their new knowledge to take positive action at their schools. the National Synchrotron Light Source, and the Center for The laboratory is very interested in teaching the skills of Functional Nanomaterials. science, including critical thinking, observation, analyti- Brookhaven also participates in the ACTS program, said cal work, and gathering and analyzing data. By exposing Ken White, the head of the laboratoryâs Office of Educational teachers to a model of inquiry-based learning, the program Opportunity. One thing lab members often heard from teach- prepares them to take such skills back to their schools. ers in surrounding areas is that they had no place outside Another Brookhaven project, done in partnership with their schools to do science. âThey donât have places to do Stony Brook University, takes place through the Center for chemistry or professional development for themselves,â Environmental Molecular Science. A two-and-a-half-day White said. In response, Brookhaven has developed several workshop for high school teachers enables them to remove ways for teachers and their students to be engaged in useful metals from soil with citric acid. (Developing the workshop and authentic research activities. âWeâre actually getting the also led to the construction of commercial kits for the extrac- students out in the field and doing things that people care tion of metals that are available through a private company.) about.â âWe send teachers away with the tools for how to do this One program takes advantage of the laboratoryâs unique and go back and be able to do chemistry in the classroom.â setting. Water on Long Island comes from an aquifer that Some teachers and their classes also have used the National needs to be protected. In cooperation with teachers, the Synchrotron Light Source to analyze contaminants in envi- laboratory put together one-week summer workshops ronmental samples. for 20 to 25 teachers focused on open space stewardship. During the question-and-answer session, the speaker and The teachers learn how to do species classification, water several members of the audience discussed the challenges in sampling, and environmental testing. Then they team up evaluating the effectiveness of these programs. The programs with employees from the Suffolk County Department of White runs are small and done on tight budgets, and finding Parks, the town of Brookhaven, or the U.S. Fish and Wild- money for a thorough evaluation, beyond simple question- life Agency to do sampling and analysis of water at sites naires, is difficult. It also can be difficult to gather longitu- close to their schools. The experts work with the teachers dinal data to track students or teachers over time. on the assays, tell them about the property, and accom- One possibility is to rely on a single evaluation design pany the teacher and students on field trips. Classes from that more than one grantee of a funding agency can use. If elementary school to high school have taken data on public such an evaluation were available as a standard design and property and have shared their results with the agencies that the same definition of outcomes were used, costs could be have responsibilities for the property. Itâs a âcommunity reduced appreciably below a stand-alone evaluation. Joan partnership,â said White. The program promotes durable Prival of NSF stated that some of the foundationâs evalu- relationships, facilitates transfer of activities to classrooms, ations are done that way, with a common set of data being teaches environmental research skills, pairs teachers with collected from major programs. Individual projects also can properties, and engages students in authentic research. adapt evaluation instruments developed for other projects, Money has come from DOE, from the schools, from other which cuts down on costs. Another possibility is for a funder government agencies, and from grants that the teachers to provide support for an evaluation center that will consult have written. A final celebration, conducted as a scientific with programs about the design of an effective evaluation. meeting, enables students to present their research and However, because many different models exist, the same celebrate their achievements. formula cannot be applied to every program.