Annual Report Overviews
Annual Progress Report
Year Two Progress Report
National Science Foundation ESI-9696221
September 1, 1996 - August 30, 1997
A Systemic Plan for Elementary Science
in San Francisco
Principal Investigators:Maria Santos, Peter Walter, Sandra Lam, Elizabeth S. Chatman
Name and Address of Awardee Institution:
Curriculum Improvement & Professional Development
2550 - 25th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94116
National Science Foundation ESI-9696221
September 1, 1996 August 30, 1997
The 1996-97 City Science program continued to direct its work toward the vision of improving and sustaining a quality science education program for all elementary students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The major goals of the program are as follow:
The Equity Act increased the number of K-12 classroom teachers from 2300 in the 1995-1996 school year to 2800 in 1996-1997. Of the 2800 teachers, 1200 are elementary teachers. With a normal attrition of about 300 teachers each year and an increase in new teachers within the past two years, nearly 30% of the District's classroom teachers are within their first three years of teaching. An early retirement incentive will retire over 20% of the current teaching force by the end of the 1997-1998 academic year. With the retirement and the normal rate of attrition, the percentage of new classroom teachers in the district by 1998-1999 will exceed 40%.
Secondly, in 1995-1996, SFUSD began the development of a comprehensive assessment system targeted to match standards. The Evaluation and Assessment Department is identifying standards-based assessmen s and strategically administering the assessments at different grade levels. In the 1996-1997 academic year, students at grades 1- 11 took the CTBS standardized test in reading, language arts and mathematics concepts and application. In addition, students were assessed in writing and science using a variety of assessment instruments. Students at grades 4, 7, and 9 took the Integrated Writing Assessment. Students at grades 5 and 8 took the CSIAC (California Systemic Initiatives Assessment Collaborative) Science Performance Assessment. 11th grade students piloted the Composition Test from the Golden State Exam as part of this assessment system. The district is employing a similar strategy to identify a mathematics assessment tool such as the New Standards Reference Exam to use at strategic grade levels.
Third, the Board of Education established new requirements for high school graduation. Beginning with the ninth grade class of 1997, all students will complete three years each of college preparatory courses in science and mathematics in order to graduate high school. By successfully meeting the graduation requirements, students will have completed courses that are equivalent to the University of California eligibility requirements.
In addition to the Board actions, the Superintendent established District priorities for 1996-97 that included:
An underlying purpose of both City Science and the SFUSD science reform effort is to increase the learning opportunities and achievement of underrepresented students in science, thus enhancing their capacity to successfully achieve in future academic opportunities. This dovetails with the SFUSD priority to address needs of bottom quartile students and students traditionally underrepresented in the fields of mathematics and science. Students will benefit from coordination of City Science and District resources available to target these students. The completion of the SFUSD Content and Performance Standards in Science and Mathematics this year establishes the foundation for defining what every student needs to know and be able to do in science and mathematics. These standards are in alignment with both the National Science Education Standards and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum and Evaluation Standards. The assessment partnerships of City Science with Kathy Comfort and the California Systemic Initiatives Assessment Collaborative (CSIAC), Dr. Steve Klein of RAND, Inc., Dr. Richard Shavelson of the School of Education at Stanford University, the LSC Core Evaluation and the assessment work of the Science Systemic Leaders will provide the District with important information on the impact of classroom instruction on students' achievement in science and in particular the achievement of African American and Latino students, English Language Learners and girls.
II. PROGRESS REPORT NARRATIVE
The various components of the City Science project continued the work began in the past year with 50 Science Systemic Leaders assuming leadership roles for the professional development inservices. Each program component was coordinated by one or more City Science staff members.
The fifty Science Systemic Leaders are a key element in the reform effort, providing broadbased leadership and support for their colleagues in implementing the SFUSD core science curriculum. Science Systemic Leaders began the school year in support of centralized professional development opportunities for teachers. Each Science Systemic Leader assumed leadership roles in one of the components: Beginning Teachers Institute, Kit Clubs, Focus School, Assessment or Study Groups. With the increased number of new teachers and experienced teachers are at different stages of teaching, professional development offered through these components have differentiated into three levels: Introductory, Refining the Practice, and Strategic.
At the Introductory level, teachers are introduced to the District's standards, core curriculum and science units by grade level, learn the science units using inquiry-based instruction, and discuss a variety of methods for managing the materials for instruction. Inservices at this level are targeted at teachers new to the District and beginning teachers. Introductory level professional development takes place at the two week Beginning Teachers Summer Institute and four follow-up sessions during the school year. Teachers participate in a minimum of 80 hours of professional development.
At the level of Refining the Practice, teachers are engaged in refining their use of inquiry-based teaching and use of assessment to evaluate students' conceptual understanding. Teachers share expertise with colleagues as they reflect on their practices and generate new questions and areas for study as they deepen their understanding of science content and effective pedagogy. Teachers with experience in teaching the science units are the target audience. Professional development at this level takes place in the form of study groups and grade level meetings, Inquiry Institutes, and Kit Clubs.
Professional development at the Strategic level targets experienced teachers, teacher leaders and mentor teachers who are interested in new areas of study. Teachers pursue solutions to questions and challenges resulting from work at levels 1 and 2. Teachers meet to identify strategies and pilot innovative solutions as they develop expertise in this new area of study. The processes and products developed at this level are shared and disseminated to professional development levels 1 and 2. The development work in assessment and the study group exploring ways of generalizing inquiry strategies to the FOSS and Insights science units are two examples of professional development at this level.
Additional responsibilities of Science Systemic Leaders this year was to provide support for science at their own school site in one of four areas: 1) facilitating grade level planning meetings and discussions on teaching the grade level science units; 2) providing inservices to their school staffs at faculty meetings in science assessment or writing in science; 3) supporting new teachers at their sites in implementing the science units; 4) facilitating and coordinating Family Nights in science or whole school science events. Some of the Science Systemic Leaders had experiences in conducting whole school events and many have mentored new teachers. The Science Systemic Leaders felt most challenged in working to affect school change. Many felt uncertain about how to begin this process and did not feel adequately prepared to work in this area. It is a goal of City Science to continue providing for the professional development of Science Systemic Leaders with regard to science teaching, content development and leadership development. The professional development for leaders has not been adequate in meeting their needs in this area.
As District teachers began to implement the handson curriculum units, there was an increasing need for Science Systemic Leaders to develop an understanding of what inquiry is, what it looks like and how to work with others to develop their understanding and enable them to implement inquiry in the classroom. The 1997 Summer Institute for Science Systemic Leaders introduced them to the use of the Local Systemic Change (LSC) Classroom Observation Protocol and videos. The Protocol and videos engaged teachers in dialogue about the elements of effective science lessons and classroom instruction. Science Systemic Leaders also had the opportunity to look at science writing from Focus Schools students and examine student work for alignment with the District's Writing and Science Standards. The Science Systemic Leaders will participate in followup work during the school year and begin to apply their new learning about the inquiry process, effective science instruction and writing in science into their professional development sessions for teachers.
Science Systemic Leaders, Mathematics Lead Teachers, and scientists were invited to attend a weekend retreat in May to use the Classroom Observation Protocol and videos as tools for identifying effective instruction in mathematics and science. This was the first time that both groups of leaders met to share and talk about what good instruction in mathematics and science looks like in the classroom . The Protocol provided both groups with a common tool to reflect on their own practices and share across content areas. As much as mathematics is critical to understanding science, the two content areas and the leadership groups have been isolated from each other because of the different curriculum implementation cycles. Scientists added value to the discussions about content while learning more about effective teaching strategies. Evaluations from the retreat indicated that teachers and scientists benefited from the discussions of the videos.
2. Materials Management
An important systemic issue in science reform is ensuring that teachers have access to materials needed to teach the core science units. The Materials Resource Center, directed by Margo Fontes, refurbishes the consumable materials in SFUSD science units for all K-8 schools. SFUSD has elected sitebased management of materials in which kits remain at the school site and consumable items are replenished by requisition.
The current refurbishment system requires that each school establishes its own plan for materials management at the site. Replenishing supplies is most often completed by individual teachers. In a few schools a paraprofessional does the requisitions upon teachers' requests. Principals have requested assistance in developing a site based system for requesting materials and refurbishing kits for use by the grade level teachers.
A Science Associate Program was initiated this year with the specific goal of assisting schools in developing a science materials management system at the site. This position is available for a maximum of two years with the provisions that the principal will work with the Associate to institutionalize the management system into the school's infrastructure and the school demonstrates an increase in the amount of time spent on science teaching by each teacher at the school. Thirty four of the seventy six elementary schools participated in this two year program. These sites selected a science associate who received centralized professional development each month and provided the site with approximately 65 hours of support.
The Science Associate was selected from paraprofessionals or active parents at the school site with an interest in promoting science education. The decision was intentional in moving the responsibility away from a teacher at the site and to broaden the community of people supporting and promoting science education at the school site. Each Science Associate took on the challenge of locating, conducting inventories of the materials in the kits, and restocking all the site's science kits. Principals supported the Associates by coordinating the grade level teaching schedules for the year with the staff. This additional support provided teachers with greater access to the core science units for instruction. The site committed to increasing the amount of time spent on science instruction and submitting the grade level schedules for teaching the science units. At the end of the two years schools will have a permanent materials management system on site and the teachers will able to better meet the District's recommended time allocation for teaching science. The remaining elementary schools will be recruited for the 1997-1998 school year to start a second cohort of Associates. In evaluating the first year with principals and associates, the following are important elements to maintain for the coming year:
3. Beginning Teacher Program
The early retirement programs and Education Equity Act has dramatically increased the number of teachers new to the District and new to teaching. Nearly 30% of all elementary teachers in the district are new teachers with 3 years or less of teaching experience. This offers the District the challenge of providing professional development in science for new teachers who have not received inservices on the science core curriculum and the use of the kits. A major component of City Science focuses intensive staff development on teachers who are new to the system. Not only does this sustain the benefits of professional development within the District for a longer period of time; it also provides much needed support for new teachers that should improve their retention rate. In this way, the City Science complements the District BTSA program, which provides mentor support and professional development for beginning teachers. The City Science Beginning Teachers Program substantially expands available support structures to accommodate more beginning teachers.
The goals of the Beginning Teacher Program targets teachers new to the District and those new to a grade level. Teachers gain familiarity with core curriculum concepts and the District adopted kits, enhance their science content knowledge in the specific areas addressed, develop science process skills, and provide pedagogical strategies for instruction. These aims are accomplished through a two year program . Teachers attended a two week Summer Institute focusing on two of the four grade level core science units. This year 12 UCSF scientists worked in teams with Science Systemic Leaders to plan and present the inservices at the Summer Institutes. Four Saturday follow-up sessions and eight hours of professional development during the year from Science Systemic Leaders provided ongoing support during the following academic year. Teachers will return next summer for a second Summer Institute to learn the remaining two science units at their grade level. 80 teachers enrolled in this year's Beginning Teacher Institute and follow-up sessions during the year.
One important change to the program for next year is to have the summer leadership teachers continue on and facilitate the follow-up meetings during the school year using a study group format. The continuity in leadership and content would be more effective than introducing teachers to science resources in the community at this time. The study group format would strengthen the classroom practice of new teachers by engaging them in reflecting on their teaching and the content of their lessons.
The early retirement of nearly 20% of the current teaching force by the end of the 1997-1998 academic year and the normal rate of attrition will raise the percentage of new classroom teachers in the district to 40% by 1998-1999. The Beginning Teachers Institute will need to scale up its program by redirecting more Science Systemic Leaders into this component meet the increase numbers. The experience of the City Science Beginning Teachers Institute will be an asset to the District as it strategically plans for the professional development and support of new teachers in coordination with district-side efforts.
4. Kit Clubs
This year, the Kit Club Professional Development inservices offered an ongoing source of professional development in science for all District elementary teachers. The Kit Club inservices explored ways of extending and enhancing the science units to support the SFUSD core science curriculum. The Kit Clubs were led by a team of Science Systemic Leaders and UCSF scientists in presenting the sessions. Each Kit Club offered four afterschool handson sessions of two hours each. Most of the enrollees are teachers who have limited experience teaching the units. Teacher facilitators provide examples of what they have done in their own classrooms and examples of student work. Scientists address additional science content and help teachers focus on major concepts in the unit and how the activities support learning about those concepts. The presenters also share ideas about connections and extensions to other curriculum areas. Many of the inservices were conducted with visits to community resources such as the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the Science Education & Health Partnership Resource Center at UCSF and other San Francisco resources. Approximately 200 teachers attended Kit Club inservices during the school year.
Teachers received extensive professional development over the past four years and can teach the science unit at a mechanical level. However, much more professional development time is needed for teachers to become proficient in teaching inquiry-based science and toward improving the quality of instruction for students. Data from the LSC Core Evaluation supports the need for professional development time beyond one hundred hours. The quality of instruction and amount of time spent teaching science significantly increased when teachers received more than 200 hours of consistent professional development. To increase the effectiveness of teachers' professional development time during the school year, Michael Oliver, the City Science evaluator, recommended standardizing the Kit Club inservices so that participants have similar experiences with refinng the practice of teaching and learning science. Inservices would occurred at regularly scheduled times during the school year. Grade level teachers would benefit from discussing effective teaching and learning as the units are begin taught by teachers. A study group format will help to facilitate teachers to reflect on their classroom practice and provide feedback and support for teaching the units from colleagues. Science Systemic Leaders would need further leadership development in using reflective practices with one another and develop skills in facilitating small groups and peer coaching.
Science Systemic Leaders in the Assessment component were involved in four areas of work.
FORMATIVE CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT: The Science Systemic Leader team met monthly in an action research group format exploring the topic of formative classroom assessment. The group looked at student work for evidence of meeting the standards and identified strategies for developing assessment tools that can be used to inform and guide classroom teaching practice.
STANFORD/RAND FIFTH GRADE ASSESSMENT PILOT: Eight fifth grade teachers working in collaboration with the Stanford School of Education field tested science performance tasks conceptually related to two of the fifth grade science units, Variables and Mixtures and Solutions. The project will provide information on the effect of classrrom instruction of student performance in science tasks that are similar to instruction compared to tasks that require generalizing knowledge from the units. The goal of the research is to evaluate the reliability and validity of science performance tasks. Teachers met to discuss and analyze the assessment and their unit instruction. The tasks will be implemented in 20 SFUSD fifth grade classrooms in the 1997-1998 school year for the San Francisco Assessment Project.
DISTRICT SCIENCE CONTENT AND PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: A team of five Science Systemic Leaders used the existing draft document to identify the appropriate grade level exemplar and matched it to the sample task of each standard. They also identified science kits that support instruction of the content standard for each grade level.
The Assessment component provided teachers and scientists with a powerful tool for professional development. Teachers and scientists gained a deeper understanding of the science content related to the units being taught and became more skillful in assessing students' understanding of the content. Teachers reflected on the effect of instruction on conceptual understanding by looking at student work. New models of professional development built on assessment are needed in helping teachers to develop their expertise in assessing their student understanding of science knowledge. Assessment awareness needs to be developed at all levels - formative classroom, summative end of the unit, and large scale assessment- to promote change in teaching practices that impact student learning. The partnerships with CSIAC, Stanford School of Education and RAND, Inc. was of great value in building the District's capacity to develop standards-based assessment.
6. Focus Schools
Three Science Focus Schools were selected to develop sustainable models of effective science programs that provides all students with a standards-based science program. Each school selected a leadership team of four people composed of the principal, a teacher leader in each content area- mathematics, science, and language arts. The team members were part of the Science Systemic Leaders component. The interdisciplinary team works with the principal to coordinate the site's professional development sessions that focus on science and integrates the content areas. The leadership team is responsible for implementing the site plan and facilitates grade level work groups and faculty meetings focused on science. In addition to the site based professional development. the three schools participate in professional development as a network of schools. The schools chose to emphasize writing in science and attended inservices conducted by the Bay Area Writing Project to learn about the different kinds of science writing. Teachers collected student writing from science journals and looked at student work for evidence of conceptual understanding. In the process of examining student writing, teachers gained insights on the complexities of interpreting student thinking and the importance of designing meaningful and worthwhile assessment questions and tasks. A City Science staff and the two Exploratorium Teachers-in-Residence each worked 2 days per week at one of the Focus Schools. The Exploratorium Inquiry Institutes allocated four slots each summer for each of the Focus Schools. The Focus Schools were given priority in the professional development events offered to teachers at the Exploratorium. The goal is to provide a critical mass of teachers at each school with a foundation in inquiry-based science teaching.
The lessons learned from the Focus Schools and from the writing process were shared with Science Systemic Leaders. The leadership teams were highly motivated and dedicated to their responsibilities. Like the Science Systemic Leaders the teams would benefit from developing skills in facilitating small groups, peer coaching, and facilitating school wide planning processes. Principals had good intention but were often overwhelmed by the numerous demands of the school community. The staff will need to maintain continuous support to the schools as they implement their school plans and develop the leadership skills of the school teams.
7. Scientists Involvement
Scientists from UCSF participated in much of the City Science component work. Preliminary data from surveys and evaluations indicate that scientists involvement served to keep the focus on science and build conceptual understanding of the topics in both Science Systemic Leaders and teacher participants. Their work enhanced the content of science in all the professional development opportunities, especially in the Beginning Teachers Summer Institutes and the Kit Clubs. In the fall of 1996, four Scientists-in-Residence were placed at the three Focus Schools to provide in-class support to teachers as they taught the science units. The most effective model for working with the Focus Schools in this first year was to have the scientist work with a given grade level on a particular science unit with advanced planning. The model involved coordinating class times one or more days each week in such a way that the scientist could move from one class to the next with the same lesson.
The work with scientists is an important part of professional development and in building respect and appreciation for the expertise and contributions of teachers and scientists. The May retreat with scientists, mathematics and science leaders in looking at classroom videos and using the protocol characterized the synergy that can evolve when each group brings their expertise to a common task. Scientists and teachers were enriched by the experience of talking about teaching and learning and effective instruction in mathematics and science.
The scientists involvement with the Kit Clubs was more difficult to define as Kit Clubs served to target teacher needs and interests. The work in the coming year will need to sustain and enhance the scientists contributions that are effective in the Beginning Teachers and Focus School components. Additional work is needed to better define the work within the Kit Clubs that occur during the school year. One of the scientist, Erik Wilson, was instrumental in helping the Technology focus group in designing the City Science site on the District's home page. This site will inform all teachers of the core science units at each grade level, related field trips and community resources, and teaching tips for the units. Mr. Wilson has received a fellowship from NSF to investigate the use of the Internet in support of science education at the elementary school level. His work will help to connect teachers to the Internet and science education.
B. Collaboration with the Exploratorium
Over the years, the SFUSD and the City Science project have worked closely with the Exploratorium to share information and engage in collaborative planning. 1996-1997 saw the continuation of a long and fruitful collaboration with the Exploratorium. This collaboration takes the following forms:
Allocating slots in the Inquiry Institute each summer for Focus School teaching staff will enable each school to have a critical mass of teachers who have a foundation in the inquiry process of teaching and learning. Change does happen, but slowly. The intensive work with Focus Schools over time will provide teachers at Focus Schools with opportunities to meet, talk, and continue to experience inquiry activities. As teachers practice using inquiry, they will receive feedback and opportunities to refine their practices with the support of the Teachers-in-Residence and City Science staff. Having the common experience of inquiry and continuing the discussions of teaching and learning of science at school sites during the year will help each school to implement the schools ' goals. The coming year will see a continuation of the collaboration between the Exploratorium, SFUSD and City Science, UCSF and the developing partnership with California Academy of Sciences.
1. Impact on Teachers and Classrooms
The greatest impact on the classroom is the shift from a textbook approach to having students inquire, explore, experiment and form conceptual frameworks to further their scientific knowledge. Secondly, teachers increased the number of minutes per week spent teaching science.
Teacher response to the 1996-1997 Core Evaluation Teacher Survey developed by Horizon Research evidenced that teachers 1) with between 100 -250 hours of professional development spent more time on science teaching, 2) had support for science instruction, 3) used diverse effective instructional strategies, 4) increased science inquiry and 5) made links to mathematics and literacy development.
2. Impact on Students
Student responses on the Opportunity to Learn section of the CSIAC Science Performance Assessment support the teachers responses and show that students are involved in activities that support a hands-on, inquiry based program. Students are encouraged to develop and use the communication skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening and group work to learn science. Key insights learned from the Opportunity to Learn data speak to classroom student experiences that promote student learning.
The data for the 1996-97 test was received in early December and was not available at the time of this report.
D. Plans for the Coming Year
The City Science Project will continue to refine its component work in the coming year with attention to the recommendations from this year's evaluation. Three areas will need strategic planning:
Standardizing the Kit Club sessions will need both logistical and leadership coordination. Grade level teams of Science Systemic Leaders will need to design professional development that help teachers refine the teaching and learning of the science units beyond the mechanical level. Planning time in the summer will be needed to develop:
The challenges to the City Science project in the coming year are to develop strategies that improve the quality of teaching and learning in science and utilize the District's Assessment Plan to make the case for science education with all teachers, parents, and principals. Science Systemic Leaders will need more support and nurture for their own professional growth if they are to continue to carry the science agenda at the school level. The District has created opportunities to sustain the science education reforms through its District Assessment Plan which strongly supports the assessment work of the City Science project. The project will need to focus its professional development on the three levels: Introductory for new teachers, Refining the Practice of teaching the science units for experienced teachers, and Strategic for the teacher leaders and mentors. Assessment can be a powerful tool to help the project move toward providing quality science education for all students in the District and assessing student achievement will make a strong case for sustaining science education reform.