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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: CITY SCIENCE -- A Systemic Plan for Elementary Science in San Francisco
description: Copyright 1998 by City Science
All rights reserved.
published: 01/28/1999
posted to site: 01/28/1999

City Science: A Systemic Plan for Elementary Science in San Francisco

I. Overview

City Science works on continuous improvement of the science education program to better serve the students of San Francisco Unified School District. The 1997-98 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:

  1. All elementary students will receive quality science instruction in science for at least 90 minutes a week in kindergarten, 120 minutes a week in grades 1-3, and 200 minutes a week in grades 4-5 delivered by enhanced teacher.

  2. All students will receive science instruction that engages them in hands-on, inquiry based learning experiences from the content and processes of science. The SFUSD Science Content and Performance Standards provide the benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

  3. Over a five-year period each teacher will participate in at least 100 hours of professional growth opportunities in science content and processes, and mathematics topics applied in science. The professional development opportunities will be directed toward improving teaching and learning to provide access for all students with special attention to the targeted student populations: African American and Latino students, students with special needs, and English Language Learners.

The City Science program offers Professional Development opportunities within its program for elementary teachers. These components include:

  • Beginning Teachers Summer Institute & follow-up during the school year

  • Science Focus Schools

  • Kit Clubs and Study Groups

  • Leadership development for teachers and principals

  • Materials Refurbishment Center

  • Science Associates Program

  • Scientists Partnership Program

  • K-5 Multimedia Project

  • Summer School Science Academy

  • Collaborations with partners to enhance science education: Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) at the University of California at San Francisco, the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), Center for Urban Science Education Reform (CUSER), and California Science Initiatives Assessment Collaborative (CSIAC), and the Stanford School of Education

In addition to the Professional Development programs, the staff prepared for its first Summer School Academy in Science, developed a science curriculum guide for new teachers, aligned the District curriculum units with the newly adopted Standards and collaborated with the elementary Teachers on Special Assignment in mathematics and language arts to begin the K-5 Multimedia Project. The K-5 Multimedia Project is a technology tool to assist teachers in correlating the district core curriculum with standards, provide model lessons matched to standards, show video examples of teachers using best practices in teaching, and illustrate the elements from the California Standards for the Professional Teaching.

In 1995, San Francisco Unified School District began developing Content and Performance Standards for Science, Mathematics and Language Arts and these were adopted by the Board of Education in September 1998. The SFUSD Content and Performance Standards in Science defines the learning goals at each level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12,and provide clear expectations for what each student needs to know and be able to do in science. City Science staff and leadership teachers participated on the development process and help to shape the Standards that are based on the National Science Education Standards and the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy. These standards represent a rigorous set of expectations for all SFUSD students.

The enrollment for the Beginning Teachers Summer Institute reached its maximum of 85 teachers. The dramatic increase in new teachers since 1995 has increased the numbers of new teachers needing the introductory level of professional development on the content and pedagogy of the science units. The Beginning Teachers Institute targets teachers in the second and third year of teaching instead of first year teachers.

The Materials Refurbishment Center is a critical part of the district support for science by providing accessibility to materials needed for teaching the units. The additional on site support for the establishment of a school site refurbishment and management system through the Science Associate program has greatly increased the science instruction at the schools with a Science Associate.

A Summer School Academy in Science was planned by City Science to provide a field setting to model the use of inquiry with the District science units. Teachers met one week before summer school started for professional development. City Science staff coached teachers three afternoons a week and engaged in reflections on their lessons and teaching practices. The Case Study protocol was introduced to teachers as a strategy to promote teacher interactions and reflections around student understanding of the learning goals. Teaching toward standards was the theme for the summer school.

The California Science Initiatives Assessment Collaborative (CSIAC) Performance Assessment was again administered to all fifth and eighth grade students. The administration procedures were refined to ensure greater consistency. The test is becoming institutionalized as part of the District’s Comprehensive Assessment Program. City Science is transitioning the responsibility for the administration and data aggregation to the Evaluation and Assessment Department. City Science will coordinate the development of the test items with CSIAC.

Our science partnerships continue to enrich the work of teachers, scientists and students in SFUSD. The Exploratorium Teachers-in-Residence supported study groups for teachers to explore the infusion of inquiry into the district science units. The lessons learned from the study group inform both the District and the work of the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry on the infusing of inquiry into any set of curriculum units. The two Exploratorium Teachers-in-Residence worked at Science Focus Schools to enhance the development of the schools’ leadership teams and coach the leadership teachers on the practice of inquiry based instruction.

Scientists from the Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) at the University of California, participated in many aspects of the program including planning and delivering professional development to teacher leaders, co-presenting with teachers at the Beginning Teacher Summer Institute and follow-up sessions during the year, and supporting two focus schools with the Scientist-in—Residence Program. The scientist coordinator worked with the City Science staff to effectively use the expertise of individual scientist in enhancing teacher content knowledge and use of inquiry. SEP provided inservices for scientists in preparation for their working within a school setting.

The City Science Program is in its fourth year as a Local Systemic Change project working toward sustaining elementary science in the District. The project will expand the use of case study protocol to build the capacity of schools to conduct on site professional development in science. We will need to continue professional development for new teachers and help them to learn the District science curriculum. The District is beginning to implement standards-based educational programs and City Science will align its program with District and national science standards to ensure that all SFUSD students have access to high quality science instruction from qualified teachers.