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Science Teacher Enhancement in The Pike's Peak Region (STEP-uP)Annual Report Overview

published: 11/27/2000
posted to site: 11/27/2000

Research and Education Activities:

Project Overview

Science Teacher Enhancement Project unifying the Pikes Peak Region (STEP-uP) is a five district collaborative working with Agilent Technologies to improve science instruction for elementary students. The project vision utilizes a differentiated professional development model to build teacher expertise, capacity and leadership. Located in the Pikes Peak Region of Colorado, the participating districts include: Harrison District Two, Colorado Springs District Eleven, Cheyenne Mountain District Twelve, Academy District Twenty, and Lewis-Palmer District Thirty-Eight which represent 1,326 teachers of elementary science. Each of these districts has had a successful initial curriculum launch. The STEP-uP project seeks to sustain those efforts and boost districts to the next level of implementation through a three-tiered approach.

Tier I focuses on basic implementation of science kit, integrating standards, mentoring, and equitable instructional strategies and is designed for new teachers. Teachers accumulate 45 hours in Tier I. Tier II focuses on science content learning, inquiry pedagogy, integrating standards using unifying concepts, and research-based instructional strategies. Courses are centered around major organizing concepts, e.g. constancy and change, and address the content of several kits. Each course is 45 hours. Tier III focuses on leadership development in science education. Tier III includes several options: Master of Arts in Teaching in Integrated Science, Science Leadership courses, principal and parent support, and activities specifically designed to support the science resource teachers.

STEP-uP began May 1, 2000. Activities to date-include:

1. Tier I

  • Regional Kit Trainings for new teachers • Introduction to Kit-based Science
  • Mentoring components have been initiated for several teachers
  • SRTs are engaged in planning the pedagogical aspects of additional
  • Tier I sessions

2. Tier II

  • 112 teachers have participated in one of two courses: Constancy and Change in Earth Science and Constancy and Change in Life Science
  • Each 45 hour course is field-based with 5 days (33 hours) devoted to inquiry-based science content and instructional strategies led by scientists/science educators, SRTS, and classroom teachers.
  • Follow-up study groups (12 hours) focused on integrating non-science curricular standards using science as the content core.
  • Each teacher receives either 3 semester hours of credit at Colorado College or 3 Colorado Department of Education credits.
  • Five additional courses are in the planning stage to be offered January through June 2001.


3. Tier III

  • Twenty teachers were funded fully or partially in the MAT in Integrated Science. The program consists of three summer institutes (each combining science with pedagogy), academic year seminars, and a master's research paper. The 2000 institute focused on an inquiry into the geology of the front range.
  • Six SRTs were selected from the five participating districts. They have participated in team building, Exploratorium activities, readings, preparing them to serve as co-instructors. The SRTs have begun their work supporting principals and teachers.
  • One Science Liaison (SL) from each of the 77 participating schools has been identified. Some have participated as co-instructors in Tier II courses. A substantial number participated in the state science teacher conference.
  • A Science Leadership course is planned for spring 2001. Science Liaisons, kit trainers, SRTs, graduates of STICS (an, Eisenhower-supported pilot for STEP-uP), former MAT graduates, and others nominated by their district are eligible for the leadership course.

4. Other activities of STEP-uP

  • Project Coordinator and Staff Assistant were hired and housed at Agilent Technologies.
  • District level meetings were held with principals and Science Liaisons to announce the grant and explain it's components.
  • Administrative Council meetings
  • Advisory Board members have been identified with a first meeting set for Feb. 8-10, 2001, in Colorado Springs.
  • Conversations with the Colorado Springs Arts Council indicate that the Council will use STEP-uP's unifying concepts as an organizational strategy for their education-related programs.

At this mid-point of year one, we have made substantial progress in implementing the project. We are now concentrating on establishing additional courses and recruiting teachers. We anticipate our Advisory Board will contribute important feedback and suggestions for enhancing our work.


We have served 132 participating teachers and anticipate serving an additional 120 before the close of year one.

We have modified our leadership component to diversify the options and to build capacity of current teachers to serve in a variety of leadership roles.

We have been encouraged by the Lead Evaluator's report and her high marks give to our lead scientists who practice inquiry. Informal feedback from teachers comment on the STEP-uP courses modeling the model of inquiry that we espouse.

The report of the Lead Evaluator is available from Horizon Research, Inc.

Training and Development:

3. Opportunities for training and development

Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III as described on previous pages

STEP-uP's strategies for:

a. deepening teacher's content knowledge

  • Identify lead scientists to design and teach courses that model inquiry
  • Emphasis on content understanding within a major theme rather than coverage of scientific facts
  • Five of the seven class days are devoted to science content and pedagogy

b. effective pedagogy and assessment

  • Field-based courses model the 5 E instruction model from BSCS
  • Emphasis on questioning strategies, graphing data, graphic organizers, comparing/contrasting
  • Emphasis on integrating curricular standards using science as the content core
  • Using questioning strategies as on-going formative assessment

c. Utilizing science kits

  • 12 hours of study group time utilizes analyzing science kits and revising lessons to reflect the science and pedagogical content of the STEP-uP courses
  • Teachers identify kit and standard alignment

d. Supporting implementation in the classroom

  • Assignments are geared toward implementating kits, questioning, unifying concepts, and standards in the classroom
  • Mentoring of classroom teachers has just begun

Extent of Teacher Involvement:

Tier I: 271 total teachers in kit trainings which represents approximately 135 individual teachers taking an average of 2 kit trainings

Tier II: 115 in Earth and Life Science courses @ 45 hours each

Tier III: 20 MAT candidates @150 hours each

Degree of classroom and school implementation:

All districts have been implementing kits for 5 to 7 years

PD for non-teachers:

Principal meetings regarding science and literacy research

Mentoring of science faculty