This 5-year Local Systemic Change project in Minneapolis reaches approximately 1,600 grades K-8 teachers in 62 elementary and 8 middle schools. All teachers receive a minimum of 100 hours of professional development in science, with the 300 leadership teachers being involved in 240 or more hours. The professional development is expected to provide all Minneapolis teachers with the science content knowledge and instructional skills they need to implement the district's new inquiry- and standards-based science curriculum. Principals and school administrators from the district's elementary and middle schools will undertake professional development to enhance their leadership skills in the alignment of science curriculum, instruction and assessment in their schools. An important goal of all the proposed project activities is to change the belief systems that have perpetuated the public perception that science is not for all children. A coalition of science professionals has been formed that includes Minneapolis teacher leaders and district administrators, higher education faculty, informal science educators, and representatives of local corporations and community organizations. A substantial effort is underway in Minneapolis to recruit teachers who represent the diverse groups represented in the schools' student population, which is now 63 percent students of color. Approximately 25 percent of the new teachers hired in the last five years are from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.
One component of the Minneapolis Local Systemic Change project will be to develop stronger linkages between the Minneapolis Public Schools science program leadership and the state's higher education institutions that train the majority of future Minneapolis teachers, with the goal of moving preservice teacher training in science closer to the MPS standards for science curriculum, instruction and assessment.
The services of the district's two science centers that have traditionally provided hands-on science instructional materials to elementary school teachers will be expanded to include materials distribution to middle school teachers and science professional development coordination for the entire district. Principals and science leadership teachers at the school sites will determine the scope of services offered by the centers as part of a "buy-in" plan to be implemented over the five-year term of the project. Teachers at 8-10 "model schools" will experiment with various approaches to aligning the science curriculum with best practices in instruction and assessment.