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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: Asset Teacher Enhancement Program
published: 12/10/1998
posted to site: 12/10/1998


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:

  1. Provision of curriculum materials:
  • more than 1,400 curriculum units disseminated to K-6 classrooms
  • Requests for curriculum units by the 30 districts increased as follows:
  1. Teacher confidence through ongoing professional development:
  • Teacher participation in professional development has increased as follows:
  • 4 teams of teachers and administrators participated in the Inquiry Institute at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
  1. Regional science institutions and professional development:
  • Three week-long Road Trips, one each for an earth, physical, and life science trip, were coordinated by the Carnegie Science Center.
  • A dramatic increase from 75 to 225 enthusiastic teachers participated in the Road Trips.
  1. Sharing resources across the region through centralized materials support
  • Children in 1,154 classrooms received units delivered in collaboration with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s delivery system.
  • Seven Duquesne University students were employed in the Center
  • 50 students and 70 parents volunteered 638 hours to refurbish units.
  1. Science inquiry and authentic assessment
  • Alignment of performance tasks with 2 enduring learnings in each unit
  • Rubric design and anchor paper scoring incorporated in professional development
  • Analysis of alignment between STC and FOSS activities to the National Science Education Content Standards and the draft PA Science Standards.
  1. Collaboration between school districts, classrooms and community partners:
  • Joint projects between school districts: e.g., a wetlands-coke plant exchange and a Science Bowl at Duquesne University.
  • Joint projects with community resources: e.g., coordination of ASSET 5th grade units and the Pittsburgh Voyager program.
  • 93 Bayer scientists visited ASSET schools

Lessons Learned

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.