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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
published: 12/03/1998
posted to site: 12/03/1998

Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
Annual Report
October 23, 1998

Part I. Annual Overview

Project Description

Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education (BASEE) is an eight district collaborative working with Hewlett Packard Company to improve science instruction for elementary students. The project vision is to provide science content training for approximately 1950 teachers and administrators with models of excellent pedagogy. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the participating districts include: Cupertino Union School District, Los Altos School district, Menlo Park School District, Mountain View School District, Palo Alto Unified School District, Redwood City School District, Santa Clara Unified School District and Whisman School District. Each of the districts has participated in Hewlett Packard’s Hands-On Science Program, which included training at the National Science Resources Center in Washington, DC and a three-year $90,000 grant. Each district has had a successful initial curriculum launch. The BASEE project seeks to sustain those efforts and boost districts to the next level with all students learning science and its connections to their world of experience in lively, inquiry-based lessons. Professional development activities are designed to feature science with meaningful connections to math, literacy and technology.

Recognizing that teachers and administrators have different professional development needs, BASEE has designed training in five different strands:

  1. Nuts & Bolts — This strand introduces new teachers, or those new to the curriculum, to the science kits.
  2. Ongoing Content & Pedagogy — These weeklong, in-depth summer institutes offer content background with rich examples of good teaching. In 1998 the content focus is physical science.
  3. Leadership — Lead teachers from each school site receive many opportunities to hone their skills in working with colleagues. These include coaching, dealing with change and resistance, laptop training for reporting and online communications, and a weeklong Inquiry Leadership Institute.
  4. Administrators — Special workshops for principals and district administrators provide help with science supervision and support
  5. Science Resource Teacher Professional Development — The SRTs require ongoing opportunities to nurture their growth and development.

Major accomplishments

The first year and a half of the grant period (May 1997 - August 1998) entailed the building and refinement of an infrastructure: communication channels, documentation procedures and guidelines, financial reporting and budgeting, role definitions, and expectations. The main goal in the beginning was to build leadership capacity within the SRT team and the lead teachers. Professional development programs were provided in all five-strand areas with two summer institutes as the capstone. Over 200 elementary teachers attended one of two identical one-week institutes, Celebrating Physical Sciences, featuring the science content background behind the kit they teach in physical science. Lead teachers were immersed in inquiry as they participated in a weeklong program, Invitations to Inquiry, designed to deepen their understanding and practice of this pedagogy. Teachers at each of our 83 school sites developed a school site science plan based on their professional development needs reflected in their self-assessment rubrics. In total, BASEE teachers have spent over 36,000 hours in professional development activities or planning sessions since the beginning of the project.

Lessons Learned

We’ve realized that we cannot ignore any one of our five strands if we wish to create a sustainable system. Yet, providing for all levels simultaneously is a delicate balancing act placing overwhelming demands on the SRT team. While the BASEE calendar of events may seem quite reasonable, we need to consider it in the context of the other district demands. Consequently, we have made a concerted effort to build better pacing into our calendar, provide clerical assistance to the SRTs and enlist the guidance of our Administrative Council in planning.

We have recognized the critical role of the principal in supporting rich science lessons at school sites and are beginning to develop plans for including them more in project activities. In addition, we now understand that they, too, require our support. With the help of our assistant superintendents, we are designing a toolkit for principals which will provide them with information for their school newsletters, the observation rubric for classroom supervision and coaching, short articles regarding the standards and an overview of curricular strands K-6.

In as much as we have strong agreement among districts regarding our vision for excellent science teaching and learning, we recognize the importance of validating the separate district cultures and differences in implementation. Providing for individual differences makes our planning and delivery of programs more complex but better serves our districts. For example, some districts can no longer offer released time for daytime professional development participation making evening or Saturday programs the only option. By the same token, we have experienced the power of a collective voice with unique opportunities to share the wealth of talent we bring to each other and often say that "we are better together than apart."

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