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Case Study: Metro Nashville Area

author: Metro Nashville Area Local Systemic Change Project
submitter: Metro Nashville Area Local Systemic Change Project
published: 03/19/1998
posted to site: 03/19/1998

Metro Nashville Area LSC School Documentation Project

The 1996-97 NSF Co-Project Director, Emily Stinson, was the director for the HRI School Documentation Project. She has since returned to Metro Schools full-time. She selected the two schools to participate in the HRI school documentation pilot project based on discussions with HRI. School Site 1 was selected because it was further along on school-wide change in science education for a variety of reasons and School Site 2 represented a school site that was just getting started. These two sites provided an opportunity to see school change from different starting points, school change cultures, and approaches to staff development to promote school change.

School Site 1 voted to be an NSF project school-wide site. This meant they (the faculty and the principal) committed the first year of the NSF Project to train the whole faculty simultaneously (one science module per year and other necessary inservice) to convert to hands-on inquiry-based instruction in science. The principal was very committed to this approach for instruction across the entire curriculum.

School Site 2 is using an approach of beginning with training a team of teachers across the grade levels on using the science modules. This school is not an NSF project school-wide site. There were initially fewer teachers trained at this school. The hands-on science approach was newer to this principal.

The different approaches to staff development lend themselves to the study of attitudes, processes, support for change, successes and potential barriers to systemic change in general and in relation to the two different approaches to change in terms of inservice and principal involvement as a catalyst for change.

The primary focus of the School Documentation Project was to pilot test-school documentation activities. An initial meeting was held by Ms. Stinson with School Sites 1 and 2. At the meeting, portfolio and artifact collection was reviewed with the principals, school facilitators, and the NSF Project teachers-in-residence. Since that time the TIRs and the Metro Schools NSF Project Coordinator have met with the school documentation teams for technical assistance and progress reports.

The NSF Project TIRs (Belinda Jackson - School Site 1 and Jeannie Tuschl - School Site 2) are conducting classroom observations and completing the HASP configuration checklist, and assisting the principal and school documentor (a teacher at the school, the school facilitator for the NSF project) on assessing teacher attitudes, progress in implementing the new curriculum, and assessing student attitudes and progress. The TIRs are assisting classroom teachers at each school to take the Mesa AZ Teacher Self-Assessment and to score this. This instrument is designed to allow teachers to reflect on their own teaching and learning needs. Also, both school sites are assessing their current student achievement test baseline data on science.

The NSF Project Coordinator has been meeting monthly with the School Site teams to provide support for the documentation project.

The documentor is collecting examples of change toward inquiry based teaching they see in the school in journal form.

Examples given are changes in:

  • instructional practice or attitudes

  • student curiosity as shown in/through problem solving activities/skills

  • teacher questioning techniques

  • professional development participation

  • amount of inquiry-based instruction/use of science modules

  • approaches to professional development (types, frequency, purpose) and related policies to support the change process

The documentor will cull specific information from their journal, with the principal/assistant principal to write a summative narrative on change.

The school portfolio documentation includes:

  • examples of student work

  • teacher lesson plans

  • student journals/entries

  • teacher anecdotes

  • announcements of change events at school for teachers or parents

  • other artifacts such as newsletters, etc.

Ms. Stinson set the date for portfolio and journal completion as May 1, 1998.