Annual Report Overviews
SEEDS Annual Overview
Science Education Enhancing the Development of Skills
Stark County, Ohio
SEEDS is a local systemic change initiative for science grades K-6. The goal of the project is to improve the teaching of elementary science by implementing a hands-on, minds-on science program integrated with other content areas. The development of the project was initially driven by the local school business partnership. SEEDS is a collaboration of sixteen schools districts and three private schools, the Stark County Educational Service Center, The Education Enhancement Partnership, and Ashland University. There are 4 rural districts, 4 suburban districts, 2 urban districts, and 6 small town districts in the project serving one thousand teachers (90% female) and twenty-five thousand students. Although there is demographic variation between districts, the county average is 93% white, 6% black, 1% other, and 15% disadvantaged. School districts have developed a standards-based curriculum and utilize primarily FOSS, STC, and Insights for instructional materials. The project web page can be found at http://www.seedsnet.stark.K12.oh.us.
The SEEDS model consists of one hundred hours of professional development obtained through leadership training, Immersion (kit) training, content workshops, and Action Research Seminars. Each teacher develops an individual professional development plan as currently required by the state for licensure renewal. After four years, 95% of the teachers have taken training. Teachers that have been in the project for all four years have an average of 109 hours of professional development.
The SEEDS leadership model utilizes a Program Management Team consisting of the principal investigator and six other teachers and administrators. There is one Lead Teacher in each of the sixteen school districts and a district leadership team consisting of a 1:7 teacher ratio. Leadership training and content workshops are offered by the Program Management Team, and the Immersion training and Action Research Seminars are facilitated by the Lead Teachers and the district leadership teams. A variety of lead teacher models exist with about half using release time and half using stipends for after school and summer work. Leadership teams have developed a variety of models to provide for the management of materials, teacher instructional assistance, and professional development training.
Accomplishments for 1998-99. There were two days of leadership training for the district leadership teams and five days for the Lead Teachers. During the school year, Action Research Seminars were offered in each school district for one semester hour credit and 548 (49%) enrolled. In the summer there were eight one-week workshops offered by the Program Management Team. Two districts had Immersion training for new teachers. There were a total of 47 days of training with 227 teachers enrolled in the summer of 1999. All districts have completed their initial Immersion Kit training in 1995 1997, and have fully implemented all the units.
Teacher attitudes and behaviors have continually improved though most of the change occurred during the first two years of the project when the initial mass kit training occurred. Teacher pedagogical preparedness in instructional and assessment strategies, science content preparation, and the quality of professional development are Horizon composites that have shown statistically significant growth since 1995-96. Student achievement data, as measured by state proficiency tests at grades four and six, has gradually improved every year and continues to be above the state average. The annual capsule ratings of teacher classroom observations have increased from a 2.7 to a "4: Accomplished Effective Instruction." District measures of sustainability and institutionalization have increased as well and are currently a "4: Emerging Supportive Context."
Lessons Learned. The major lessons learned to date are related to the importance of satisfactory student accountability measures to the sustainability of the program; the importance of administrative leadership to making and sustaining change; the difficulty yet necessity of teachers understanding their role in continuous improvement of student achievement; the importance of developing a on-going process of mentoring new teachers once the initial staff development is completed; the importance of creating time and opportunities for teachers within the day to improve their teaching and hence student achievement; an awareness that the rate of change and improvement slows over time; and the possibility that a science materials center may be the only avenue to ensure long term sustainability of a hands-on, minds-on science program.