The DESERT Project is a Local Systemic Change (LSC) project designed to change the way that science is taught throughout the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) so that all students become scientifically literate. The project is designed to build self-sustaining learning communities in collaboration with the University of Arizona and the business community in 94 elementary and middle schools.
Clear science standards together with both district wide and site centered professional development will be provided for 1,536 elementaryteachers, and 160 middle school teachers, and 94 principals (n = 1,790 teachers). Schools as learning communities together with community links to the community will be accomplished through leadership and district wide site centered strands. All strands are supported by Internet technology.
The district wide strands provide professional development to help teachers meet the needs of diverse learners. This will be accomplished through a series of foundation courses (four) designed to provide teachers experience with inquiry and assessment strategies. These will be supplemented with summer courses will develop a pedagogical base necessary for effective science instruction to diverse learners.
The site centered strand is designed to strengthen teachers in their instructional mode through study groups and action research that will empower them to assume responsibilities for their own professional development on a continuing basis. Computer workstations will be provided in each teacher's classroom allowing access to the DESERT website containing information and learning tools to support and augment teaching. Family science activities at each school with parents and pupils is designed to link the community and School closer together. Science forums in partnership with university scientists will be conducted. Businesses will inform and encourage their members to support systemic change throughout the TUSD schools.