Advancing Earth Science Instruction across High School Life and Physical Science

EarthX is a design-based research project that supports the integration of Earth science into high school biology, chemistry, and physics courses in Baltimore City Public Schools, while also supporting the district’s transition to three-dimensional (3D), ambitious and equitable science teaching aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). EarthX builds on the success of the Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science (ICE) DRK-12 project, which developed innovative chemistry course curriculum materials and PD strategies, to support Earth science integration into biology and physics course curriculum development and 3D teaching. EarthX will develop, test, and refine embedded and unit assessments for all three courses, along with providing an online system for assessment administration; real-time reporting to teachers and students; and provision of data to PD leaders, administrators, and researchers for multiple purposes. Assessments will be 3D, featuring core concepts from both Earth science and the course discipline combined with a science or engineering practice and a crosscutting concept.

Full Description

EarthX is a design-based research project that supports the integration of Earth science into high school biology, chemistry, and physics courses in Baltimore City Public Schools, while also supporting the district’s transition to three-dimensional (3D), ambitious and equitable science teaching aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As the district does not have a current standalone Earth science course at the high school level, the project will support the integration of Earth sciences into other disciplinary science classes to meet the NGSS expectations for Earth science instruction in all grade levels. All high school biology, chemistry, and physics teachers in city Schools (139 teachers) will use EarthX assessments and participate in EarthX professional development (PD). The project will reach the entire, highly diverse student population attending traditional city schools. EarthX builds on the success of the Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science (ICE) DRK-12 project, which developed innovative chemistry course curriculum materials and PD strategies, to support Earth science integration into biology and physics course curriculum development and 3D teaching. EarthX will develop, test, and refine embedded and unit assessments for all three courses, along with providing an online system for assessment administration; real-time reporting to teachers and students; and provision of data to PD leaders, administrators, and researchers for multiple purposes. Assessments will be 3D, featuring core concepts from both Earth science and the course discipline combined with a science or engineering practice and a crosscutting concept. Assessments will support teaching and learning of phenomena in the local-to-global environment in ways that are both engaging and accessible to Baltimore students and teachers. Biology, chemistry, and physics teachers require these types of instructional supports, along with ongoing PD that is collaborative both within schools across disciplines and across schools within disciplines to succeed in the dual challenge of achieving Earth science integration and 3D, ambitious and equitable teaching. Many school districts around the nation are facing this same dual challenge and will benefit from EarthX resources, strategies, insights, and research findings, all of which will be disseminated and made widely available.

EarthX will utilize a design-based research approach to: 1) Build and nurture a strong Research-Practice Partnership, employing best practices of partner engagement and empowerment, collaboration, evidence-based improvement, and productivity. 2) Develop and test disciplinary and cross-disciplinary PD strategies for supporting effective Earth science teaching in high school biology, chemistry, and physics courses. 3) Develop learning progression-aligned, embedded, and summative 3D assessments of student performances that can support ambitious and equitable teaching about phenomena in the local-to-global environment at the interfaces between Earth science and biology, chemistry, and physics. 4) Bring EarthX strategies to scale, resulting in transformative, phenomena-based 3D instruction across the district. In meeting these goals, the project will address the following research questions: How do multi-year professional learning experiences that support empowerment and collaborative, reflective practice contribute to teachers’ growing understanding and implementation of phenomena-based, 3D instruction? How does availability of and experience with using student performance data (including near real-time automated analyses) contribute to teachers’ growing capacity to implement ambitious and equitable 3D instruction? How do teachers’ growing capacities to enact 3D, ambitious, and equitable instruction impact student learning gains (assessed with credible measures of 3D performances) over the course of a year and over the three-year course sequence? Methods for addressing these goals and research questions start with a Research-Practice Partnership with a diverse team of district leaders, scientists, science education specialists and researchers, teacher leaders, and the project evaluator, with critical and ongoing engagement with the project advisory board. Development and use of assessments of both teachers' practices and students’ performances are a central feature of EarthX. Teacher PD will emphasize reflective practices through video- and artifact-supported teacher reflection among cohorts of teachers that will include both within-school and across-school communities of practice. Learning progressions will be utilized and revised to frame analyses of student performances to provide feedback to teachers and students, and to address the student learning research question. EarthX will provide invaluable insights into the integration, adoption, adaptation, and support of Earth science and 3D pedagogy at the whole district scale. As a result of the EarthX project, tested and refined PD strategies, summative and embedded 3D assessment systems, and research findings related to teacher and student development will contribute to the science education community’s growing understanding and support of district-level adoption of NGSS-aligned teaching, learning, and reform.

PROJECT KEYWORDS

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