The KITES Project is a five-year $4.6 million local systemic change project funded in part by a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is managed by a partnership between Rhode Island College and East Bay Educational Collaborative, a private, non-profit educational agency that serves the eight school districts along the Narraganset Bay in eastern Rhode Island.
The project provides more than 600 K-6 teachers from 49 East Bay elementary and middle schools and Henry Barnard School at Rhode Island College with at least 100 hours of professional development and resources necessary to deliver exemplary inquiry-centered science instruction to more than 13,400 students. The project links teacher preparation programs with K-12 education. And, it allows teachers to work with academic and industry scientists and engineers in order to teach science more effectively.
The project is organized in accordance with five essential pillars of systemic change:
In addition, there are two other pillars:
- Curriculum that includes modular, inquiry-centered science kits
- Professional development
- Materials support system
- Assessment methods for evaluating student performance
- Administrative and community support
At one level, the project's goals are to replace the current science textbook approach with a hands-on, inquiry-centered, core science curriculum which includes modular units developed by Lawrence Hall of Science and the National Science Resources Center.
- Computer technology which includes telecommunications
- Teacher preparation programs
At another level, the goals of the project include nurturing changes in understanding, values, practices, and policies that lead to a significantly different system.
Major Accomplishments from May 1995-November 1999
- recognized by the community as a high quality educational program; awarded 1999 'Educator of the Year' by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
- developed teachers, parents, and children who are enthusiastic about the hands-on, inquiry-centered approach;
- contained a project management team which is responsive to teachers' needs for varied, long-term, and coordinated professional development ;
- delivered standards-based professional development in which participants re-engaged in purposeful activities. Professional development is designed to enhance teachers' understanding of important science concepts, processes, pedagogy, assessment and leadership skills;
- developed performance-based assessment for each of the 20 kits. The assessments include tasks, rubrics, 'benchmarked' responses and aligned with standards.
- developed a community of learners where K-6 teachers work together at grade levels across districts;
- developed teachers who value the support of more than 100 academic and industry scientists who work side-by-side with them during professional development;
- developed a cadre of scientists who serve as advocates of science education reform;
- developed a total of 33 'lead teachers' representing seven of the eight districts who have conducted kit-specific professional development activities during the summer and academic year;
- exceeded in enrollment the targeted population (637 of 600 teachers originally targeted) in KITES;
- utilized two grants totaling $530,000 grant from Rhode Island Department of Education (Goals 2000 funds) to the East Bay Educational Collaborative to develop teachers' and administrators' understanding of performance-based assessment of learning in science and mathematics;
- delivered services and materials equitably to teachers from all districts and Henry Barnard School at Rhode Island College. All schools have participating teachers;
- acquired, inventoried, refurbished, and delivered up to three science kits to each of the K-6 participating teachers; continued the expansion of the building for a Materials Resource Center;
- collaborated with the University of Rhode Island's GEMS-NET LSC by providing materials support for teachers in seven South County districts.
- developed Internet web sites with connections to educational resources and a KITES Listserv;
- more than 1,300 preservice college students have worked with NSF-funded instructional materials in elementary science methods classes at Rhode Island College, University of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University. In 1999, more than 250 college students at Rhode Island College worked directly with KITES teachers in using science kits;
- continued partnerships with Roger Williams Park Zoo and Museum of Natural History for a KITES Day field trip experience for 7,500 East Bay K-6 students and 325 teachers; utilized expertise of personnel from local science centers such as Save The Bay, Audubon Society of RI, and Department of Environmental Management