Administrators

Persistence of Teacher Change in Rural Schools: Assessing the Short- and Long-Term Impact of Professional Development on K-2 Science Instruction

This research study is examining the persistence of improved teacher skills achieved during the K-2 Science & Technology Assistance for Rural Teachers and Small Districts project (K-2 STARTS). K-2 STARTS provided four years of professional development to teachers in 16 rural school districts with high populations of traditionally underserved students. Project data indicates that the project increased teacher content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, abilities to integrate science and literacy and to use research-based instructional strategies.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119589
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/15/2011 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Loretta Kelley
Full Description: 

This research study is examining the persistence of improved teacher skills achieved during the K-2 Science & Technology Assistance for Rural Teachers and Small Districts project (K-2 STARTS) funded by the State of California.

K-2 STARTS provided four years of professional development to teachers in 16 rural school districts in California with high populations of traditionally underserved students. 39 teachers each received 110 hours of professional development. Project data indicate that the project met its goals by increasing teacher content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, abilities to integrate science and literacy and to use research-based instructional strategies. K-2 STARTS also improved the capacity of teachers to use science resources and to network with teachers from their own and other rural districts.

This project is doing a longitudinal research study by extending data collection for 35 teachers for two years after the end of K-2 STARTS. It is using the measures from the original evaluation, which include teacher surveys and interviews, classroom observations, surveys for school administrators, teacher-developed unit artifacts, and student science notebooks, and adding two more measures, administrative interviews and school/district documents. In the final year, the project is doing data analysis and dissemination. The project is exploring the persistence of the knowledge and skills of the teachers over time, as well as their continued use of science instructional practices. It will also study the persistence of school/district support for science education.

External evaluation is being conducted by Dr. Loretta Kelley of Kelley, Peterson, and Associates, Inc. It focuses on project progress through formative and summative components.

Longitudinal studies of the effects of teacher professional development are rare. The increased knowledge concerning the persistence of the new knowledge and skills obtained through K-2 STARTS professional development, and why and to what extent they decay over time, is a significant goal.

Cluster Randomized Trial of the Efficacy of Early Childhood Science Education for Low-Income Children

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, implemented in low-income preschool settings produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is determining the efficacy of the program on Science curriculum in two models, one in which teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control).

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1119327
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
Brian Dates, Southwest Counseling Services
Full Description: 

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, Head Start on Science, implemented in low-income preschool settings (Head Start) produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is being conducted in eight Head Start programs in Michigan, involving 72 classrooms, 144 teachers, and 576 students and their parents. Partners include Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and the 8 Head Start programs. Southwest Counseling Solutions is the external evaluator.

The study is determining the efficacy of the Head Start on Science curriculum in two models, one in which 72 teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which 72 teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control). The teacher study is a multi-site cluster randomized trial (MSCRT) with the classroom being the unit of randomization. Four time points over two years permit analysis through multilevel latent growth curve models. For teachers, measurement instruments include Attitudes Toward Science (ATS survey), the Head Start on Science Observation Protocol, the Preschool Classroom Science Materials/Equipment Checklist, the Preschool Science Classroom Activities Checklist, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). For students, measures include the "mouse house problem," Knowledge of Biological Properties, the physics of falling objects, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition, the Expressive Vocabulary Test-2, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability-3, Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales, and the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Measures for parents include the Attitudes Toward Science survey, and the Community and Home Activities Related to Science and Technology for Preschool Children (CHARTS/PS). There are Spanish versions of many of these instruments which can be used as needed. The external evaluation is monitoring the project progress toward its objectives and the processes of the research study.

This project meets a critical need for early childhood science education. Research has shown that very young children can achieve significant learning in science. The curriculum Head Start on Science has been carefully designed for 3-5 year old children and is one of only a few science programs for this audience with a national reach. This study intends to provide a sound basis for early childhood science education by demonstrating the efficacy of this important curriculum in the context of a professional development model for teachers.

Multiple Instrumental Case Studies of Inclusive STEM-Focused High Schools: Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspiration (OSPrl)

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118851
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. In contrast to highly selective STEM-focused schools that target students who are already identified as gifted and talented in STEM, inclusive STEM-focused high schools aim to develop new sources of STEM talent, particularly among underrepresented minority students, to improve workforce development and prepare STEM professionals. A new NRC report, Successful K-12 STEM Education (2011), identifies areas in which research on STEM-focused schools is most needed. The NRC report points out the importance of providing opportunities for groups that are underrepresented in the sciences, especially Blacks, Hispanics, and low-income students who disproportionately fall out of the high-achieving group in K-12 education. This project responds specifically to the call for research in the NRC report and provides systematic data to define and clarify the nature of such schools. 

The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study. The first phase of the study is focusing on 12 well-established and carefully planned schools with good reputations and strong community and business support, in order to capture the critical components as intended and implemented. Case studies of these high-functioning schools and a cross-case analysis using a set of instruments for gauging STEM design and implementation are contributing toward building a theory of action for such schools that can be applied more generally to STEM education. The second phase of the study involves selecting four school models for further study, focusing on student-level experiences and comparing student outcomes against comprehensive schools in the same district. Research questions being studied include: 1) Is there a core set of likely critical components shared by well-established, promising inclusive STEM-focused high schools? Do other components emerge from the study? 2) How are the critical components implemented in each school? 3) What are the contextual affordances and constraints that influence schools' designs, their implementation, and student outcomes? 4) How do student STEM outcomes in these schools compare with school district and state averages? 5) How do four promising such schools compare with matched comprehensive high schools within their respective school districts, and how are the critical components displayed? 6) From the points of view of students underrepresented in STEM fields, how do education experiences at the schools and their matched counterparts compare? And 7) How do student outcomes compare?

The research uses a multiple instrumental case study design in order to describe and compare similar phenomena. Schools as critical cases are being selected through a nomination process by experts, followed by screening and categorization according to key design dimensions. Data sources include school documents and public database information; a survey, followed by telephone interviews that probe for elaborated information, to provide a systematic overview of the candidate components; on-site visitations to each school provide data on classroom observations at the schools; interviews with students, teachers and administrators in focus groups; and discussions with critical members of the school community that provide unique opportunities to learn such as mentors, business leaders, and members of higher education community that provide outside of school learning experiences. The project is also gathering data on a variety of school-level student outcome indicators, and is tracking the likely STEM course trajectories for students, graduation rates, and college admission rates for students in the inclusive STEM-focused schools, as compared to other schools in the same jurisdiction. Analysis of the first phase of the study aims to develop rich descriptions that showcase characteristics of the schools, using axial and open coding, to determine a theory of action that illustrates interconnections among context, design, implementation, and outcome elements. Analysis of the second phase of the study involves similar processes on four levels: school, student, databases, and a synthesis of the three. Evaluation of the project consists of an internal advisory board and an external advisory board, both of which provide primarily formative feedback on research procedures.

Research findings, as well as case studies, records of instrument and rubric development and use, annual reports, and conference proposals and papers are being provided on a website, in order to provide an immediate and ongoing resource for education leaders, researchers and policymakers to learn about research on these schools and particular models. An effort is also being made to give voice to the experiences of high school students from the four pairs of high schools studied in the second phase of the study. Findings are also being disseminated by more traditional means, such as papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

Continuous Learning and Automated Scoring in Science (CLASS)

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program.

Award Number: 
1119670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items (i.e., short essays, science narratives, concept mapping, graphing problems, and virtual experiments) into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program. WISE is an online science-inquiry curricula that supports deep understanding through visualization of processes not directly observable, virtual experiments, graphing results, collaboration, and response to prompts for explanations. In partnership with Educational Testing Services (ETS), project goals are: (1) to develop five automated inquiry assessment activities that capture students' abilities to integrate their ideas and form coherent scientific arguments; (2) to customize WISE by incorporating automated scores; (3) to investigate how students' systematic feedback based on these scores improve their learning outcomes; and (4) to design professional development resources to help teachers use scores to improve classroom instruction, and administrators to make better informed decisions about teacher professional development and inquiry instruction. The project targets general science (life, physical, and earth) in three northern California school districts, five middle schools serving over 4,000 6th-8th grade students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and 29 science teachers. It contributes to increase opportunities for students to improve their science achievement, and for teachers and administrators to make efficient, evidence-based decisions about high-quality teaching and learning.

A key research question guides this effort: How automated scoring of inquiry assessments can increase success for diverse students, improve teachers' instructional practices, and inform administrators' decisions about professional development, inquiry instruction, and assessment? To develop science inquiry assessment activities, scoring written responses include semantic, syntax, and structure of meaning analyses, as well as calibration of human-scored items with a computer-scoring system through the c-rater--an ETS-developed cyber learning technology. Validity studies are conducted to compare automated scores with human-scored items, teacher, district, and state scores, including sensitivity to the diverse student population. To customize the WISE curriculum, the project modifies 12 existing units and develops nine new modules. To design adaptive feedback to students, comparative studies explore options for adaptive guidance and test alternatives based on automated scores employing linear models to compare student performance across randomly assigned guidance conditions; controlling for covariates, such as prior science scores, gender, and language; and grouping comparison studies. To design teacher professional development, synthesis reports on auto-scored data are created to enable them to use evidence to guide curricular decisions, and comments' analysis to improve feedback quality. Workshops, classroom observations, and interviews are conducted to measure longitudinal teachers' change over time. To empower administrators' decision making, special data reports, using-evidence activities, individual interviews, and observation of administrators' meetings are conducted. An advisory board charged with project evaluation addresses both formative and summative aspects.

A research-informed model to improve science teaching and learning at the middle school level through cyber-enabled assessment is the main outcome of this effort. A total of 21 new, one- to three-week duration standards-based science units, each with four or more automatically scored items, serve as prototypes to improve students' performance, teachers' instructional approaches, and administrators' school policies and practices.

Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale

This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.

 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119122
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.

In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.

An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.

The District Pacing Guide: A Mediator in Enacting Connected Mathematics in an Urban District

Presenter(s): 
Karen D. King
Monica Mitchell
Jessica Tybursky
Contact Info: 
Year: 
2010
Month: 
December
Discipline / Topic: 
Presentation Type: 

Poster presented at the DRK-12 Principal Investigators Meeting in Washington, DC.

Effective Programs for Elementary Science: A Best-evidence Synthesis

This synthesis project is a systematic review of experimental research evaluating programs and practices in elementary science. The systematic review addresses all areas of science in the elementary grades. The review uses an adaptation of best-evidence synthesis previously applied to elementary and secondary mathematics and reading, and includes experimental and quasi-experimental research on the outcomes of alternative approaches to elementary science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019306
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

This synthesis project is a systematic review of experimental research evaluating programs and practices in elementary science. The systematic review addresses all areas of science in the elementary grades. Different versions of the synthesis are written for audiences of researchers, policy makers, principals, and teachers. The review uses an adaptation of best-evidence synthesis previously applied to elementary and secondary mathematics and reading, and includes experimental and quasi-experimental research on the outcomes of alternative approaches to elementary science. The review is a part of a series of reviews that are part of the Best Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE), an on-line resource that disseminates systematic reviews of research on achievement outcomes of programs at all subject areas and grade levels (see www.bestevidence.org), and is led by Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University.

The review is carried out by a US-UK partnership of science educators and experts on systematic reviews of research. An advisory group of scientists, science educators, and experts on research review oversees the design of the review, monitors review procedures, and comments on drafts. This review takes a broad approach to searching the literature in order to locate every study that meets inclusion requirements for valid research. It includes electronic searches of educational databases (JSTOR, ERIC, EBSCO, Psych INFO, Dissertation Abstracts) using different combinations of key words (for example, "elementary students" and "science achievement"), covering the years 1970-2010. Results are narrowed by subject area (for example, "educational software", "science achievement", "instructional strategies"). Web-based repositories and education publishers' websites are included. The review also discusses each study that meets the inclusion requirements for a valid research design.

A strength of this work is that it takes on the synthesis of what is known about best practice for elementary science education, relying only on studies that meet the criteria for inclusion as having credible research designs. This is a review that is sorely needed in the field of science education. The lengthy and detailed review will be available on the BEE network, along with educator-friendly summaries. The work is also vetted via publication in a top, peer-reviewed journal. The study will include a set of tables showing ratings of programs according to consistent criteria in terms of the strength of the evidence base for each, with brief descriptions of the methods and findings. This educators' summary, patterned on Consumer Reports, is intended primarily for superintendents, principals, and teachers who are making choices among programs for implementation with their children.

Achievements and Challenges of Modeling-based Instruction (ACMI) in Science Education: from 1980 to 2009

This project will synthesize existing literature on modeling-based instruction (MBI) in K-12 science education over the last three decades. It will rigorously code and examine the literature to conceptualize the landscape of the theoretical frameworks of MBI approaches, identify the effective design features of modeling-based learning environments with an emphasis on technology-enhanced ones, and identify the most effective MBI practices that are associated with successful student learning through a meta-analysis.

Award Number: 
1019866
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/15/2010 to Sat, 06/30/2012
Full Description: 

The University of Georgia will carry out a two-year Synthesis Project that aims to provide a comprehensive review of the research and practices for modeling-based instruction (MBI) in K-12 science education. The project will synthesize existing literature on MBI in K-12 science education over the last three decades. It will rigorously code and examine the literature to conceptualize the landscape of the theoretical frameworks of MBI approaches, identify the effective design features of modeling-based learning environments with an emphasis on technology-enhanced ones, and identify the most effective MBI practices that are associated with successful student learning through a meta-analysis.

The project will build a systematic and analytic framework to conceptualize MBI, recommend best design strategies of technology-based modeling environments, evaluate MBI teacher professional development strategies associated with improved student learning, and propose appropriate assessment strategies created to evaluate and inform MBI. In addition to the comprehensive analysis of the theory and design of MBI, a meta-analysis will study the four components of student learning: theory, design, implementation, and assessment. Based on qualified quantitative studies, an examination of the four components will be made to evaluate how different empirical studies have established their effectiveness, examine the correlations among key components, and chart the impact of associated factors on student learning.

Blogs: Enhancing links in a professional learning community of science and mathematics teachers

Author(s): 
Loving, C. C.
Schroeder, C.
Kang, R.
Shimek, C.
Herbert, B.
Publication Type: 
Journal
Year: 
2007
In press?: 
In Press
Resource Format: 

Loving, C. C., Schroeder, C., Kang, R., Shimek, C., & Herbert, B. (2007). Blogs: Enhancing links in a professional learning community of science and mathematics teachers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 7(3). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol7/iss3/maintoc.cfm.

Exploring teacher knowledge and technology use in creating the inquiry classroom: Implications for novice science teacher professional development

Discipline / Topic: 

Kim, H., Miller, H. R., Herbert, B. E., Loving, C., & Pedersen, S. (2009). Exploring teacher knowledge and technology use in creating the inquiry classroom: Implications for novice science teacher professional development. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Charleston, SC.

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