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: 
September 15, 2011 to August 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.

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