Annual Report Overviews
PESE Year 4 Report Narrative - 2000-2001
PESE Year 4 Report Narrative - 2000-2001
RMC Research Corporation, Portland, OR
Between September 1, 2000, and August 31, 2001, PESE sponsored 287 training sessions in the areas of leadership, science inquiry, science content (physical science, earth science, and life science), use of the science kits (physical science, earth science, and life science), technology, and literacy. These sessions served 3,420 attendees, providing over 16,800 contact hours. Ninety percent of all of the training session participants gave the workshops they attended an overall rating of 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 (not useful) to 5 (very useful). The participants responded especially positively to life science content training, earth science kit training, and leadership training. For all 3 of these training types, at least 19 out of every 20 participants rated the training a 4 or 5 overall. Teachers were somewhat less likely to rate the earth science content training and the technology training highly. Additionally, during this time period project staff made 1,650 contacts with participating teachers to provide more than 1,460 hours of technical assistance.
Quality of Preparation of Professional Development Providers
The professional development conducted through the PESE project is facilitated by science specialists, teacher leaders, and secondary school teachers (for more advanced topics). In addition, volunteer scientists and engineers facilitate whenever possible. The PESE professional development facilitators were carefully selected for their science content knowledge, their knowledge of elementary level teaching and learning, their understanding and vision of reformed science education, their ability to model effective classroom practices, and their ability to mentor teachers in a classroom setting. Lead workshop facilitators are paired with experienced teachers or with someone who has either a strong content background or relevant research experience in the topic area.
In an effort to build capacity within the participating school districts, the project has decreased reliance on the science specialists to provide professional development during the-2000-2002 school year. Middle and high school teachers, and scientists and engineers taught almost all of the content courses. Two teachers who have assisted with the inquiry course in the past now facilitate the course independent of the science specialists. Advanced lead teachers facilitated almost all of the literacy courses. The 6 science specialists provided a considerable portion of the professional development in the other areas and all of the on-site technical assistance. Four of the science specialists were half-time teachers on special assignment in Evergreen School District, and 2 were full-time employees of ESD 112. All of the science specialists have extensive training and experience in science education and 3 have degrees in science.
The project staff has identified a cadre of teacher leaders on the basis of the strength of their science backgrounds and their ability to quickly grasp how to use the science kits to help students engage in more complex scientific investigations. These teachers quickly mastered the mechanics of the kits and are generally interested in exploring specific areas of content and pedagogy. The project directors and science specialists encourage these teachers to attend advanced content and science inquiry courses. The science specialists who frequently work with teachers in their classrooms, identify and recruit the teacher leaders. Teachers may also volunteer for the opportunity.
Ongoing development of teacher leaders is a priority for the PESE project, and one goal of the project is to identify a large cadre of teachers who, with support, will be able to carry on the training of new teachers when the NSF funding period is over. Teacher leaders are prepared for their roles through leadership workshops, content analysis workshops, and participation in other special curriculum projects such as aligning the kit materials with the Essential Academic Learning Requirements in language arts, mathematics, and social studies. Teacher leaders frequently conduct the introductory kit training courses for their respective grade levels. Scientists and secondary teachers participate in teacher leader training to provide content support and to develop relationships.
Each person who provides professional development through the PESE project receives a considerable amount of preparation and training. A new science specialist receives approximately 150 hours of preparation and 50 hours of ongoing support. New teacher leaders receive 36 hours of leadership training for each new kit they train on, new community-based scientists and engineers and other district personnel receive approximately 30 hours of orientation and training (they attend the same training).
All of these activities, together with monthly staff meetings at both ESD 112 and Evergreen School District, help the science specialists and teacher leaders continuously improve the quality of the professional development that is offered.
Culture of the Professional Development Program
Rationale: The culture established through the professional development and the involvement of teacher leaders has helped the teachers participating in the project build collegial relationships among themselves and with science and engineering professionals. Eighty-five percent of the participants rated the collaboration during the workshops a 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) on the workshop evaluation forms. Nine out of every 10 participants (91%) rated the participation in breakout sessions a 4 or a 5. The collegiality among project participants is also evident in the results of the teacher survey that is conducted in the spring of each year. The composite collegiality rating score for the Phase I teachers (the group that has been involved in the project for 3 years in the spring 2001) in 1999 was 76 on a 100-point scale, up significantly from 72 at the start of the project. Phase II teachers (who had been involved in the project for 2 years) had a collegiality composite score of 70 in 2000, up (but not significantly) from the 68 the previous year. Phase III teachers (who had been involved in the project for 1 year) had a composite score of 76 in 2001, up significantly from 68 in 2000. Seventy-two percent of the Phase II participants also reported feeling supported by colleagues to try out new ideas in teaching science.
Deepening Teachers' Understanding of Mathematics/Science Content
Increasing the content knowledge of the participating teachers is a primary goal of the PESE project, and this goal is integrated into all of the professional development activities. PESE supports a series of workshops designed to increase content knowledge. During the 2000-2001 project year content training accounted for 32% of the 1,470 total workshop hours offered, amounting to a total of 3,796 contact hours of content area instruction. Content courses support the discipline addressed by the kits that are introduced each year. For example, teachers who are at a grade level that uses the FOSS sound kit are encouraged to take the related content course on sound.
The workshop participants were very satisfied with the content introduced during the workshops. Seven out of every 8 teachers (87%) who participated in the workshops rated the science content that was introduced a 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Nine out of every 10 participants reported that the concepts presented during the workshops were clear or very clear. These efforts have had some impact on the content knowledge of the PESE project participants. In spring 2000 more than 2 out of every 3 Evergreen School District teachers indicated that the project had increased their science content knowledge to at least some extent. In addition, the percentage of teachers in Evergreen School District who feel prepared to teach science increased significantly. By spring 2000 more than 2 out of every 3 teachers (69%) reported feeling at least fairly well prepared to teach science. More specifically, teachers who participated in the targeted content training reported a significant increase in their content preparedness from the spring of 1997 to the spring of 1999 in the areas of rocks and soils, electricity, sound, and engineering and design principles. Teachers who participated in the workshops on sound reported the greatest growth.
Further evidence of growth in the participating teachers' science content knowledge are their responses to other items on the teacher survey. When Phase I teachers rated the impact of the PESE professional development, more than 4 out of every 5 (84% of 302 respondents) reported that their participation in the professional development had increased their science content knowledge by at least some extent, and 1 out of every 6 reported that the professional development had improved their science content knowledge to a great extent. Similarly, the teachers reported an increase in their ability to implement high-quality science instructional materials and an increase in their understanding of how children think about and learn science (89% and 86%, respectively, reported at least some increase).
Instructional Materials and Pedagogy
Helping Teachers Become Familiar with the Designated Instructional Materials and Learn the Appropriate Pedagogy to Develop Students' Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics/Science
Rationale: Understanding students' thinking about the science concepts embodied in the kit activities is addressed in the kit training and in the science inquiry workshops. Kit training and inquiry workshops accounted for 34% of the total workshop hours conducted during 2000-2001 year of the PESE project. Nearly 7 out of every 8 workshop participants (86%) rated the pedagogy introduced during the workshops a 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
The workshops impacted teachers' beliefs about the importance of certain types of classroom activities. This change is evidenced by the results of the teacher surveys in the baseline year (1997) and the first 2 years of the project (1998 and 1999). The composite index for pedagogical preparedness, investigative culture, and investigative practices increased significantly from 1997 to 1999. The growth in these areas took place, however, between 1997 and 1998. From the 1998 survey to the 1999 survey the scores on these composite indexes remained relatively the same. From 1999 to 2000 Evergreen School District teachers showed a statistically significant increase in the composite for pedagogical preparedness (45 to 46; p < .001), investigative culture (74.9 to 79.3, p < .001), and investigative practices (50.1 to 53.5, p < .001).
From 1999 to 2000 Evergreen School District teachers' responses to the survey showed a statistically significant improvement in their preparedness to provide concrete experience before abstract concepts, develop students' conceptual understanding of science, take students' prior understanding into account when planning curriculum and instruction, make connections between science and other disciplines, organize students into cooperative learning groups, engage students in appropriate hands-on activities, engage students in inquiry-oriented activities, engage students in applications of science in a variety of contexts, use performance-based assessments, lead a class using investigative strategies, manage a class engaged in hands-on or project-based work, help students take responsibility for their own learning, encourage students' interest in science, and involve parents in the science education of their students. The teachers' responses to the general survey question about how well prepared they feel to teach science improved from a mean of 2.6 to 2.8 (p < .001).
Supporting Teachers as They Implement the Designated Instructional Materials in Their Classroom
The level of teacher support resulting from the PESE project is substantial. The project has established a highly effective system to store, restock, and distribute science teaching kits. During the first 2 years of the project Battle Ground School District operated the Science Resource Center with staff assistance from ESD 112. During Year 3 of the project, the center moved to a new location at ESD 112 and was renamed the Science Materials Center (SMC). The Instructional Resource Center (IRC) at Evergreen School District distributes the kits to the schools in Evergreen School District. Hewlett-Packard Company and the school districts provide funding for purchasing the kits and the school districts cover the kit operation and maintenance costs. This infrastructure for the maintenance and circulation of approximately 1,000 kits has removed most of the logistical barriers that had discouraged teachers from using the kits in the past. As a result, Phase II teachers demonstrated a significant increase in the use of the kits as the basis of science lessons, and in the spring of 1999 48% of the Phase I teachers reported using the kits as the basis for their science lessons at least once or twice a month.
The 6 science specialists visit each school building according to a schedule that coincides with the delivery of the kits. During the visits, the science specialists are available to consult and coach individual or small groups of teachers, assist in the classrooms during the use of the kits, and model the use of specific activities (this is one of the most common uses of specialists). This on-site technical assistance is available for any teacher upon request, but the science specialists have been very assertive about serving all teachers - not just those who express interest. During the 2000-2001 school year the science specialists made 1,651 contacts providing, more than 1,460 contact hours of assistance to teachers.
Teachers have also reported that the support they receive from their building principal is relatively high. The composite score in the area of principal report remained in the mid- to high 70s on the surveys administered in 1997 through 1999. From 1999 to 2000 Evergreen School District showed a statistically significant increase in the composites for principal support (71 to 73; p = .005).
The PESE project has successfully used the funding provided through the LSC grant to build and institutionalize the necessary infrastructure to support hands-on science instruction for all students in kindergarten through Grade 6 in the 9 participating school districts. This infrastructure includes a high-quality professional development model that provides every participating teacher with 36 hours of content training, 18 hours of introductory and advanced kit training, 10 hours of on-site technical assistance, and 36 hours of teacher selected professional development in the areas of science inquiry, leadership, student assessment, technology, and literacy. Participants are very satisfied with the quality of professional development offered and the effect of the professional development is evidenced by measurable increases in pedagogical preparedness, investigative culture, and investigative practices.
C. Overall Continuum Rating of the Quality of the Professional Development Program
Consider all data available to you regarding the quality of the LSC professional development in addressing the following key functions of the LSC professional development program: (1) deepening teacher content knowledge; (2) helping teachers become familiar with the designated instructional materials and learn the appropriate pedagogy to develop students' conceptual understanding of mathematics/science; and (3) providing on-going support to teachers as they implement the designated instructional materials in the classroom. Then, place this project at the appropriate point along the continuum below. The continuum rating is holistic and should encompass both science and mathematics for projects that target both subjects.