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6 Systemic Professional Development and Science-Education Reform There is, in my judgment, no agenda more important to the future of this coun- try than improving the educational system.... To bring that change about both to deliver the collective shove necessary to get the educational system rolling and to provide the support to keep it rolling will require enormous efforts from us all.... That, in the end, is what partnerships are all about. Through very flexible vehicles we can unleash the creativity and harness the energy that normal institutional relationships can crush. [Haycock, 1990, pp. 9-10] Professional development of science teachers is one component of the entire educational enterprise. In this chapter, we describe professional-development programs that are designed to link groups of teachers in whole departments, schools, and school districts. These are commonly called systemic or systemwide programs. Systemic professional-development programs involve changing (or attempting to change) multiple components of a total system, whether the system is a school, a school district, a group of districts, a region, a state, or a nation. They require collaboration among several groups or organizations and can in- clude elements of curriculum development and implementation, in addition to continuing, long-term professional development. We compare the goals and effectiveness of such systemic programs with those of the programs that we have previously described, most of which have been individual-based programs, de- signed to enhance the skills of individual teachers. The distinctions are obviously not absolute, and both types of programs and combinations of them can enhance teachers' professional development. We believe that systemic programs can contribute more effectively to science-education reform because they deal with 62
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE-EDUCATION REFORM 63 more of the issues that affect the success of professional development. Most important, they have the prospect of reaching all teachers, not just those moti- vated and able to participate in individual-based programs. Whatever form a professional-development program takes and whatever organization sponsors it, it will have a lasting effect only if it is institutionalized to provide continuity and ensure long-term support. That message is vital. Teach- ers become hesitant to participate in professional-development programs if they have been part of new programs that disappeared quickly, especially if they disappeared just when support was most needed. Teachers are more willing to make substantial commitments of time and energy if an institution also shows a commitment in the form of continuing support and collaborative efforts among colleges and universities, school districts, and industry. Although time-consum- ing and difficult to develop, collaboration provides a broad base of program support, in case a primary source of funding disappears. THE PAST AS PROLOGUE Paul Hurd, professor emeritus of science education at Stanford University, and others have observed what appears to be a 30-year cycle of science-education reform (Hurd, 1984; Atkin, 1989~. Many experienced teachers, science educa- tors, and scientists participated in the last era of major curriculum reform in the late 1950s and early 1960s and became familiar with the major science-curricu- lum projects, such as the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), the Chemical Education Materials Study (CHEMS), the Chemical Bond Approach Project (CBA), the Elementary School Science Project (ESSP), the Earth Science Curriculum Project (ESCP), the Intermediate Science Curriculum Study (ISCS), the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC), Science-A Process Approach (SAPA), and the Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS). Those projects provided updated and accurate information for textbooks that were outdated at the time. Many efforts were devoted to designing inquiry-based laboratory activities (and materials for them) that were meant to be the focus of K-12 courses. Most were designed as sets of courses emphasizing processes of sci- ence, as opposed to the content texts that they were designed to replace. The National Science Foundation (NSF) was the major source of funding for those curriculum-reform efforts. Summer teacher institutes during the 1960s and 1970s were the primary mechanism by which teachers were prepared to use the
64 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS new curricular materials. The goals were to prepare teachers to teach science through inquiry-based methods and to deepen their content knowledge of sci- ence. At the same time, the Office of Education (now the Department of Educa- tion) was authorized, through the National Defense Education Act, to buy science equipment and improve K-12 science-teaching facilities. Thus, several mecha- nisms were put into place to reform science education on a national level. Unfortunately, funding for NSF's teacher institutes was reduced in the 1970s, and the reform movement faded into the background and stalled when NSF's Science and Engineering Education Directorate was essentially disbanded in 1982. A major stated reason was that NSF was using the institutes as a way to promote curricula-some of which contained controversial material whose de- velopment it had funded. The use of NSF funds to prepare teachers to use programs developed with NSF funds was seen by some as promoting a national . . science curncu um. After the elimination of the institutes, many of the curricular programs were not sustained. Most teachers never had the opportunity to experience the new curricula at all. Teachers who adopted the new curricula had little opportunity to learn how to incorporate them into their classrooms. Teachers who had fully adopted new science curricula continued to use them well, but those who were not comfortable with the changes that required inquiry-based classroom activities tended to slide back to the old styles of teaching. The reform effort led to revision of many of the old standard textbooks to incorporate much of the new content information from the curriculum-reform efforts but few of the inquiry-based activities for teaching the process of science. An important lesson learned from that period of major science-education reform is that if teachers themselves are not prepared to make and are not directly supported in making changes in their classrooms, change will not occur. Thus, effective professional-development programs are essential to prepare and support the teachers who will be respon- sible for reforming science education. SYSTEMIC CHANGE The five "streams" used to describe combinations of school-reform efforts have been identified by current educational researchers (Little, 1993~: reforms in subject matter (standards, curriculum, and pedagogy), reforms dealing with is- sues of equity, reforms dealing with school governance, reforms dealing with issues of student assessment, and reforms dealing with the professionalization of teaching. At present, the reform efforts focusing on standards are the most likely to include a professional-development component. Systemic change or systemic reform is currently used to describe a good portion of the school-reform efforts. These terms have come to mean different things to different people, organized efforts, associations, and funding agencies.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE-EDUCATION REFORM 65 To assist the scientist in wading through the differences in terminology and connotation, the committee offers some examples of systemic change. Example 1: Systemic change is a program initiated by NSF to effect sub- stantial reform in education and permanent change over the long term and in- cludes collaboration among a variety of organizations in state and local school districts. An effort funded by the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Re- sources, the Statewide Systemic Initiatives (SSI), is a competitive-grants pro- gram designed to award large grants to individual states to promote statewide systemic reform in science and mathematics education. In the program's first 3 years, NSF awarded 5-year grants of up to $10 million (matching funds are required) to 25 states and Puerto Rico.1 Through this program, "NSF hopes to encourage more coherent and consistent policies and programs and asks states to identify elements that, taken together, can make a difference in what students know and are able to do" (NSF, 1993, p. 1~. States must make a commitment of resources, focus statewide reform efforts, develop a vision of mathematics and science education, involve educators at all levels, and develop a plan for imple- menting and evaluating results. The oldest programs funded by SSI have been running for only 4 years, and it is too soon to evaluate their effects. The initiative has, however, galvanized interest in science- and mathematics-education reform at the highest political and policy levels in the jurisdictions that have received funds. A new NSF effort, Urban Systemic Initiatives, has recently been initiated to provide funds to large urban centers to support systemic reform. Example 2: Systemic change is the implementation of comprehensive cur- ricular frameworks based on standards and the use of these frameworks to improve teacher education, certification, professional development, and recerti- fication, as well as student assessment and classroom instruction. The AAAS Project 2061 is a national effort to promote science-education reform. With input from many parts of the science and education communities, the project prepared Science forAII Americans, which describes what a scientifi- cally literate citizen should know and be able to do. Benchmarks, another publi- cation of the project, then described a suggested sequence and age-appropriate order for acquiring this knowledge. Forthcoming "blueprints" will describe the systematic reforms necessary to implement the benchmarks. Another national effort building from this and other projects is the development of national science 1 The first SSI awards were given in FY 1991 to Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Mon- tana, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and South Dakota; recipients in FY 1992 were California, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia; recipients in FY 1993 were Arkansas, Colorado, South Carolina, New York, and New Jersey.
66 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS education standards for grades K- 12. The National Academy of Sciences, through a committee of the National Research Council, has published the National Sci- ence Education Standards. The major principles of the standards are that . · All students should have the opportunity to learn science. · With appropriate opportunities, all students can learn science. Students should learn science in ways that reflect the modes of inquiry that scientists use to understand the natural world. · Learning is an active process that best occurs when students act as indi- viduals who are members of a community of learners. The quantity of factual science knowledge that all students are expected to learn needs to be reduced so that students can develop a deeper understanding of science. · Science content, teaching, and assessment all need to be considered in the context of systemic reform to achieve the goal of science literacy for all. . The support systems for teachers and schools that must be put into place to accomplish that kind of reform require systemic changes in schools and districts and require active participation by scientists. For historical perspective, compare those recommendations with the ones made in 1910 (see Chapter 2 of this report). Example 3: Systemic change involves a local coalition of scientists, teach- ers, and administrators committed to professional development of teachers and to provision of methods and infrastructures to support revitalized science in- struction for all children in a school or school district. The San Francisco City Science Project is systemic reform that has prepared over 100 well-trained teacher-leaders who have been used, with a scientist part- ner, to conduct workshops and presentations for some 2,000 other K-8 teachers of science. Thus, every teacher of science is systematically involved in profes- sional development as part of the overall systemic-reform effort . Those examples of school-reform efforts based on systemic reform should help scientists to understand different uses of the term and recognize that the professional-development opportunities in their locales can be parts of a larger, systemic effort to improve science education. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AS A COMPONENT OF SYSTEMIC REFORM As Hord and others (1987) put it, "the improvements needed in science education and changes required are part of a process, not an event." Professional development is one strategy to be used to support systemic change. Professional development, therefore, is not just a problem to be solved, but a strategy for promoting change. Scientists tend to pose issues as problems, not strategies, so
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE-EDUCATION REFORM 67 they are often ineffective at systemic reform. Sheila Tobias captured this issue by contrasting the thinking of the science and education communities: Trained in problem definition and problem solving, scientists inevitably bring the habits of doing science to the problem of reform. Thus, those who would reform science education often frame extremely complex issues in terms they are familiar with, namely, "problems" and "solutions." But reform is not a scientific enterprise. What problem hunting and problem solving may lead to instead is an oversimplification of extremely complex processes and a prefer- ence for theoretical, universal solutions over more modest, incremental change. Moreover, having identified one of these "solutions" scientist-reformers may not wish to compromise. Since their thinking is in terms of solutions rather than strategies, their recommendations are not expressed as options; nor are they rooted in the pragmatic, the real, the here and now. They do not offer people in the field (as one person I interviewed put it) any suggestions as to "what we can do tomorrow." [Tobias, 1992, p. 16] The focus of systemic efforts in science-education reform, and education reform generally, goes beyond the individual teacher; systemic efforts aim to improve the organization of an educational system so that it can function more effectively. Professional-development programs that embrace this approach are linked to larger systemic efforts that aim to improve all components of an educa- tional system such as teaching, student achievement, curriculum, administra- tive leadership, and school policies and practice and to institutionalize changes that have proved to be effective. Particular focus is given to the school life of poor and minority-group students to ensure the improvement of achievement among all students. An underlying assumption in this approach is that members of different parts of the system such as principals, teachers, parents, and univer- sity faculty are included in the planning of the change process from the outset. Their inclusion allows the effort to obtain the massive support it needs by provid- ing stakeholders with a sense of ownership. Systemic change in science education requires collaboration at all levels of planning and execution, including teachers, scientists, administrators, parents, state and local governments, universities, federal agencies, and students. That ensures that a program is tailored to existing conditions and needs. Professional- development programs for science teachers that embrace the systemic approach are designed to reform how science is taught to all students at all grade levels. It is most important to recognize that program planners do not have to begin with the whole system of education at once to initiate systemic change. Our pluralistic educational system has enough semiautonomous units that a program can begin with a single school, or a single science department in a large school. By working with all the teachers in that school or department, a program can draw on the resources of local grassroots activities and the efforts of strong individuals. It can then build wider support to expand throughout a school district and beyond. Such systemic professional development differs from indi
68 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS vidual-teacher professional development in having the initial goal of reaching all the teachers in a unit at once, not just selected individuals. Some current systemwide efforts began by focusing on all teachers in an elementary school in a hands-on, science-based program of professional develop- ment. Ultimately, students engage in learning scientific concepts by doing ex- periments themselves. Other systemic efforts focus on engaging all teachers in a school's biology department, then expanding to include the entire science depart- ment, then the whole school, and eventually the whole school district. A well-prepared program plan must show direct benefits to the students so that they and their parents will become advocates and must show benefits to the school as a whole, not just individual teachers. Support can be achieved by open participation in planning and a willingness to share the credit so that all in- volved students, parents, teachers, scientists, and administrators feel owner- ship and are empowered by the new program. Such cooperation takes time to develop and often is difficult to achieve. Although some successful programs have begun as "end runs" around the system, eventually the cooperation of all parties is required for systemwide change. Several characteristics of professional-development programs have success- fully supported systemic change and are in keeping with the characteristics of effective programs described in Chapter 2: · There was a substantial commitment to the long-term professional devel- opment of all science teachers. Program developers, administrators, and teach- ers all recognize that good science teaching at all levels depends on sustained professional development of all teachers. The systemic program evolved gradually. The program has affected and involved all segments of the educational community. Existing programs in a school or district are reorganized to support the institutionalization of a new program, and all administrative levels of the school district know about and are involved in the program. The new program is recognized as a regular part of the educational landscape and is protected from the political ups and downs of any school district (for example, the program's implementation becomes a line item in the local school budget). The processes of science are emphasized, in addition to scientific con- tent. In our experience, the most important reform needed is to change how teachers teach science so that student learning can be improved. We believe that changes in attitudes and teaching strategies can be the most powerful agent for systemic change. Although we acknowledge that scientific content has an essen- tial role in K-12 science education, we believe that content alone cannot drive good teaching. Systemwide change requires both changing how science is taught and involving administrators, teachers, and students in the process of change. That view contrasts markedly with the current K-12 system, in which science is primarily fact-laden and workbook-driven. .
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE-EDUCATION REFORM 69 · The school system supports the materials necessary for good science teaching. Systemic change in science education cannot be accomplished only through professional development. Good science teaching requires good materi- als for teachers and students and support of the materials by the school district. If individual teachers must arrange for materials, it is less likely that a new curricu- lum will be taught. . Program developers change their ideas to accommodate what has been learned in the process of implementing the program. · School personnel support policies and procedures that encourage cur- riculum enhancement. Successful programs have the "buy-in" of teachers, scien- tists, administrators, parents, and industry. . The program works toward becoming self-sustaining and independent of the initial program developers. When properly constructed, systemic programs can become self-sustaining. If a program has been accepted by the school system and its teachers, administrators, students, and parents, it will be sustained. One clear measure of success of a program is that the program becomes independent of its initiators. · Science is coordinated with other disciplines. Good science teaching will be accomplished when it is connected to other subjects. Science, after all, is a process applied to a particular subject. The process which includes critical thinking, observation, evaluation, and reproduction applies well to all subjects. As in all our descriptions of effective reform programs, the participants must get to know each other and respect each other's varied talents and cultures. The radical description in the accompanying box dramatizes this.
70 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE-EDUCATION REFORM 71 For scientists, systemic reform has profound effects. Few things are more satisfying than having a role in substantial educational improvement in an entire school district. In addition, scientists benefit by learning about the schools. It is almost impossible for a scientist to be involved in systemic change without examining his or her own assumptions about teachers and reflecting on ways to improve his or her own teaching of science at the undergraduate and graduate levels. FOCUSING ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE There are potential advantages to working with elementary-school teachers to promote systemic change in science education. . Student and teacher enthusiasm, flexible scheduling, and greater curricu- lar fluidity simplify instructional change at this level. With encouragement from NSF, educators are now placing more emphasis on improving elementary-school science instruction. . School districts have less investment in science education in the early grades than they do in secondary schools. Moreover, parents and administrators are less concerned about science tests or scores at this level because the children are still years away from college admission. . Elementary-school teachers have less science background than do middle- and high-school teachers. Although many teachers at this level express a fear of science, once they experience science as a way of knowing about the natural world through inquiry-based activities, many become vocal advocates of science. Elementary-school education is more holistic. In most systems, a single teacher is responsible for the education of a specified group of children. Thus, the teacher can integrate science with other areas of the curriculum, rather than treating it as an add-on subject. That is consistent with a previous National Research Council committee's recommendation that "science stories" be inte- grated into elementary-school language-arts instruction (NRC, 1990~. . . Evidence suggests that the elementary-school level is where children make fundamental decisions about what they will pursue later in their educational careers. Elementary school thus provides an opportunity to establish positive attitudes toward science. · Emphasis on science and its societal implications is important for all students and might be especially important for elementary-school students, who are in the process of forming lifelong attitudes about science (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, 1978~. · Innovators are finding that educational reform at the secondary level is easier with students who have had 6 years of good elementary science. Well- prepared students and their parents can drive reform in the higher grades. This
72 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS "trickle-up" effect is caused by the elevation of expectations of students who have been exposed to novel instruction and who then challenge higher-level teachers to update their instructional methods. Thus, focusing instructional change at the elementary-school level can ultimately trickle up to higher educa- tion. RECOMMENDATIONS · Although both individual-based and systemic programs can contribute to science-education reform, systemic programs are essential to ensure that profes- sional development supports all teachers and that there is essential programmatic support for high-quality teaching. · Scientists should first learn about current science-related programs and projects in local schools or school districts that are amenable to scientists' partici- pation. These can include regional programs, such as those funded by NSF, or local projects, such as the Department of Education's Dwight D. Eisenhower State Grants for Science and Mathematics Education. · Professional-development programs that promote systemic reform must eventually involve all interested parties: teachers, scientists, administrators, par- ents, colleges and universities, industry, and community organizations. Although a program can originate with any of those parties, scientists, teachers, and admin- istrators must be involved early; other parties can be brought in as the program develops. The adept administrator can help to develop an effective school or district partnership by facilitating school or district communication and support. · The program must have realistic and well-focused goals to recruit sup- porters and advocates. It is not realistic to try to do too much at one time. Providing an extensive professional-development program for teachers and de- veloping new curricular materials are challenging tasks. Few projects success- fully do both simultaneously. Many excellent curricular materials are available; program planners need not reinvent them (see Appendixes D and F). . Programs must fit the nature, background, and willingness to change of the potential target audience. Strategies effective for promoting elementary-level science might be less effective with secondary-level teachers. · Systemic professional-development programs can often be most effective at the elementary-school level, at least at the outset. Elementary-school teachers have more flexibility to incorporate science particularly hands-on, inquiry- driven investigations into their teaching. Program planners should use national efforts that provide benchmarks or standards for science education as an incentive to promote systemic improve- ments in local districts and schools. The National Science Education Standards and the reports of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Project 2061 are examples. .