Testing a Professional Development Model for High School Science Reform and the Relationship of Key Variables to Student Achievement

This project tests the efficacy of an intensive, three year professional development program, the BSCS National Academy for Curriculum Leadership (NACL) on student science achievement in the state of Washington. The goal of the NACL is to develop the capacity of district-based secondary science leadership teams to sustain the implementation of research-based science instructional materials that promote improvement in teaching and learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316202
Funding Period: 
Sunday, September 15, 2013 to Monday, August 31, 2015
Full Description: 

This project conducted by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study(BSCS) tests the efficacy of an intensive, three year professional development program, the BSCS National Academy for Curriculum Leadership (NACL) on student science achievement in the state of Washington. The goal of the NACL is to develop the capacity of district-based secondary science leadership teams to sustain the implementation of research-based science instructional materials that promote improvement in teaching and learning. This study examines the influence of the program on student achievement after the schools and districts have had sufficient time for the effects to take hold.

The project uses existing data gathered from two cohorts of Washington-based NACL teams and archived student achievement data from Washington State?s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Additional data are collected NACL-participating districts and personnel through surveys and interviews. The project compares student achievement between the 27 districts that participated in the NACL, and a minimum of 27 carefully matched, non-NACL districts using propensity-scoring methodology. Districts have experienced different dosages of the NACL, and the project examines the differential effects of being involved in the NACL over time.

This research study provides an opportunity for multiple stakeholders including NSF, other corporate foundations that have funded the development and implementation of the NACL, BSCS, and participating school districts to determine the extent to which professional development promotes the improvement student science achievement results. The broader impact of the research is testing the extent to which basic elements of teacher professional development models correlate with student achievement and to do so in a way that could be replicated by others in similar contexts. The proposed work would inform educators about the research-based approaches to professional development that has evidence of efficacy. Moreover, by determining the time-scales by which professional development programs might be shown to influence student achievement, the findings provide new information to policymakers and researchers regarding the amount of time that could be required to see a positive impact from new educational policies and programs.

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