Annual Report Overviews
1998 ANNUAL OVERVIEW
As a non-profit organization supported by members of business, education and the community at large, ASSET (Allegheny Schools Science Education and Technology) Inc. seeks "to achieve a self-sustaining exemplary science and technology education program in the elementary grades by promoting professional development, teacher support, collaboration, and quality hands-on materials" (Mission Statement, ASSET Strategic Plan, 1998). To achieve this mission, ASSET promotes the five components of exemplary science programs identified in research by the National Science Resources Center: quality hands-on science materials, ongoing professional development, centralized materials support, assessment, and community involvement. In order to implement this comprehensive program, ASSET uses collaborative leadership characterized by teacher leadership, administrative support, and partner involvement.
Science education reform has begun to take hold in Allegheny County. The number of districts, teachers, and children involved in hands-on, inquiry-based science education has increased substantially, and satellite reform programs have sprung up in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and in surrounding counties. Currently, ASSET works with 1,800 teachers in 30 school districts with 50,000 children. Growth has necessitated a move to a larger and more efficient facility with 21,000 sq. ft.
Significant progress under the goals and strategies of the LSC program, teacher enhancement (#1-3 below) and teacher support (#4-6 below), can be shown as follows:
We have learned three important lessons: teacher leadership promotes change, sharing a vision promotes collaboration, and administrator development, when done as proactively as teacher development, promotes program support and success. Teachers have increased their self efficacy as elementary science educators. As a result, they lead the way in determining what they and their peers need to learn next. Two systems examples of these lessons learned have been the incorporation of new school districts into the ASSET program and the administrators recognition that existing teacher performance reviews needed to be changed to accommodate instructional practice promoted by inquiry teaching methods.