The Valle Imperial Project in Science (VIPS) Local Systemic Change project represents a unified regional effort of 16 participating school districts, the Imperial County Office of Education, and San Diego State University to improve K-6 science instruction. Located on the California-Mexico border, the Imperial Valley region experiences geographic isolation, poverty, and limited access to science education training. However, the uniqueness of this project is not in the magnitude of need, but in the capacity of the districts to draw on local experience and science expertise to efficiently transform this NSF supported effort into an independent, self-sustaining program.
The LSC is based on five essential elements: high quality curriculum, sustained professional development, dependable material support, strong administrative and community backing, and a comprehensive assessment and evaluation plan.
Inquiry based units from each of the major science disciplines comprise the heart of the science program. Teachers receive a minimum of 100 hours support in the use of these materials, through intensive training on grade level units, inquiry-based instruction of science content, and individual classroom support.
Institutes, symposiums, leadership training, and a graduate degree program exemplify the advanced training component of the program. Student assessment will focus on embedded unit clusters, end of unit performance tasks and the evaluation of student notebooks. A regional network of science professionals, educators, business leaders, and representatives of higher education will provide collaborative and comprehensive governance for the entire initiative.