Significant improvements in STEM content knowledge has been reported for teachers grades 3- 8 in seven East Bay schools, and their students have a 5% margin over a statewide control group scoring Proficient or Advanced on the standardized 8th Grade California Science Test, through a two-year PD effort funded by the California Department of Education.
The PD project is the newest initiative of the Science Partnership of the East Bay, a collaboration between Cal State East Bay and the Alameda County Office of Education. The Partnership works to support under-performing K-12 schools by designing and deploying a professional development model that is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and focuses on rigorous science content, the development of effective and innovative instructional strategies, coaching, teacher leadership, and reflective communities of practice. The Science Partnership, led by Dawn O’Connor of the Alameda County Office of Education and Dr. Jeffery Seitz, of the Institute for STEM Education at California State University East Bay, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
Participants in the PD project, “Science Partnership for Instructional Innovation,” include the Hayward, Fremont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Ravenswood, Castro Valley school districts, and the Academy of Alameda. A recent evaluation 1 showed the Alameda County project was the only one in its cohort to have significant gains in both teacher and student science content knowledge.
“We don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of our teachers were from districts where our Science Partnership has been working with for many years,” noted Dr. Seitz. “These data demonstrate the value of ongoing professional development programs for science teachers, and validate our approach of establishing formal partnerships with districts so that we could provide professional development over years. I have worked with some middle school teachers for more years that I have fingers!”
“We can look to further improvements in the future, as the increased content knowledge of our teachers in grades 3 through 8 enables them to implement innovative student-centered teaching that supports student success,” noted Dawn O’Connor. “We have only scratched the service on providing teachers the content knowledge they need!”
“A shortage of qualified math and science teachers is one of the biggest challenges to STEM education for California public school students, and that shortage has doubled since 2012, noted Trina Ostrander, Executive Director of the University’s Institute for STEM Education. “The challenges range from early achievement gaps in math and literacy to unequal access to computer science courses—but at the heart of it all is the need to build a knowledgeable and confident cadre of teachers with the cultural competency to reach all of our students. The Science Partnership is one of our most longstanding collaborative efforts, and we are pleased that this new study validates the value of innovative professional development for teachers,”Ostrander continued. We hope it will serve as a model for school districts throughout the state, and as an inspiration for continued funding to continue building the expertise of teachers!”
1 O’Driscoll P., Rahn M. L., Thomas A., Sousa L., Bogner J., Chen A., and Schleder B. (2017) California Mathematics & Science Partnership (CaMSP) Statewide Evaluation. Year Twelve Report, Cohort 10-12 Through September 30, 2016. Public Works