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Annual Report Overviews


Middle School Science Systemic Change Annual Overview

submitter: Middle School Science Systemic Change Partnership
published: 12/02/1999
posted to site: 12/03/1999
Middle School Science Systemic Change Partnership
Grant No. ESI-9813923
Annual Report Summary
September 1, 1998 — November 14, 1999

The Middle School Science Systemic Change Partnership is a Local Systemic Change program of the National Science Foundation. The five-year project is targeted at teacher enhancement for middle level science teachers in the following five Seattle, Washington area school districts: Washington, Bellevue, Highline, Northshore, Seattle, and Shoreline.

The core elements of the program are: 1) the development of a team of six science resource teachers who will support teachers from participating districts in changing the way science is taught at the Middle School Level and 2) the implementation of exemplary, NSF approved, instructional materials in the middle school classrooms.

During this grant year the Middle School Science Systemic Change Partnership (MSSSCP) has concentrated on building capacity. It has identified and progressed in preparing six Science Resource Teachers (SRTs) for their role in the program delivery. It developed an infrastructure that will allow for effective management and communication, forged and strengthened partnerships with teachers and stakeholders from participating districts and the community, supported professional development for teachers from participating districts, and started field-testing of instructional materials.

The SRTs started their work with the program June 1, 1999 and have since been active in a course of study, designed by the program manager and approved by the University of Washington, College of Education, to further their professional development. They meet as a group on a monthly basis with the program manager to plan and evaluate their action steps. They have so far conducted several activities in their districts in partnership with, or under the auspices of, the program. In collaboration with the program Co-PIs, the Program Manager and the SRTs organized and conducted several professional development activities for teachers from participating districts.

In terms of infusing exemplary instructional materials at the middle school level, the program manager took the lead in soliciting and acquiring professional collaborations with curriculum developers. As a result, this LSC was designated one of eight final field-test sites for the first four FOSS middle school mini-courses. The program has also entered a formal agreement with Lab Aids, Inc. to pilot the new SEPUP materials, advise the revision of the existing units, and participate in a special Lead Teacher training program at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The program has forged partnerships with community stakeholders and established collaborations with other LSCs and educational entities working toward systemic reform. These partnerships and collaborations will allow for a shared vision, pooling of resources, and coordination of efforts toward systemic change. The Program Advisory Board and Steering Committee are two structured partnerships that work systematically toward realizing the goals of the program. The 33 members of the Advisory Board represent a cross-section of the education and business community and play a major role in guiding the program and promoting its vision. The Steering Committee works closely with the program staff on planning the program activities.

The program has nurtured collaborations both within and beyond the University of Washington. The University’s K-12 Institute for Science, Math, and Technology Education has become a key partner in this task. Facilitated by the Institute, the program has developed several partnerships that will greatly enhance its capacities. The program has formed effective working collaborations with the mathematics and elementary science LSCs. In addition, during this first year, the MSSSCP aimed to increase community support for its goals and potential teacher participation in its activities. The program sought the support of teachers, administrators, parents, business, and industry and decision-makers in political offices. The Program Manager conducted over 20 presentations to different groups in participating school districts. The program conducted events to bring program goals to the awareness of stakeholders and involve them in the program implementation.

The program has also created components that will allow it to effectively manage its activities and ensure communication among its staff, partners and participants. The program has established a web page, for sharing its vision and resources with its audience and for communicating and managing operational details among its staff and Co-PIs. The program has also created an Access database that is specifically designed to record and analyze information to administer the program, ensure its progress toward its goals and to produce program reports as required by NSF for this LSC program. The framework for this database may be shared with other LSC projects. The database allows relational queries to generate reports containing compilation of information we need in order to track program activities.

As a result of this LSC’s first years efforts, support for systemic change in teaching science has increased among businesses, educational organizations and community members. New partnerships collaborating on systemic reforms have emerged and will likely outlast the funding period for this program. Two of the participating school districts have moved toward institutionalizing the position of Science Resource Teacher. Corporations such as Boeing, Washington Mutual and Turner Construction have contributed funds for the support of the program. The program has created the core elements and infrastructures for the realization of its goals.