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Tuesday, March 26 • 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Support for Science in K-8

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What are some effective strategies to build administrator support for science instruction in grades K-8, especially when it is not a tested subject?

Grand Challenge Theme:
Value of S, T, E

Academy for Urban School Leadership
Alissa Berg  Twitter: @alissabberg | @AUSLChicago

We’re seeking solutions, approaches, and responses on how to tackle this challenge:
“How can we get K-8 school administrators (and their superiors) to want to protect time for science instruction, when their evaluations only take into account reading, writing, and math scores?”

The Academy for Urban School Leadership network has been offering teachers and administrators ongoing professional development (PD) opportunities to support them in transitioning to the NGSS. Unfortunately, we still have several K-8 teachers that have not been trained around the not-so-new-anymore science standards. While teachers and administrators state that they believe in a well-rounded education, they also feel accountable to high-stakes tests which only focus on reading, writing, and math. Thus, science unfortunately gets swept under the rug in many classrooms. We know that administrators have a big impact on whether science is a focus in the classroom; however, with their plates already so full, it’s been hard to get most of them out to our PDs to see how science instruction can actually be a powerful way to enhance students’ literacy and math skills, not to mention build students’ 21st century skills.

Johns Hopkins University
Christine Newman  Twitter: @JohnsHopkins

 How our organization is tackling this challenge:
"Developing support for science in K-8 by providing teacher growth opportunities, showing evidence that teaching science daily doesn’t hurt math or reading scores and by providing hands-on instruction linked to NGSS for administrators."

Our National Science Foundation grant included NGSS curriculum for grades 3-5 and teacher supports: STEM content academies, Instructional Coaching, and Peer-Learning communities with peer visits. Administrators assumed that taking time away from reading and math to teach science would be detrimental. So, we compared participating and non-participating schools’ reading and math growth and were able to show no statistical difference. We also arranged for administrators to visit one of our schools to see hands-on science instruction and student discourse. A principal took one of our STEM Academy courses, realized that teaching science is different than English or math, and as a result he collaborated with us to develop a Science Leadership course. This popular, compensated course was hands-on and provided time for principals to reflect and collaborate on identifying what support their schools would need.

Museum of Science and Industry
Rex Babiera  Twitter: @msichicago

How our organization is tackling this challenge:
"Providing a mechanism and support for change, requiring an administrator to serve on a cross-disciplinary school team that creates and implements specific plans to improve science education school-wide."

We have developed the Science Leadership School Partners Program for K-8 schools in the Chicago region that want to make science a school-wide priority. The museum’s School Support Tool categorizes everything needed for a high-quality learning environment for science into eight Essential Elements that are further broken down into nineteen Items to Rate. We train each school’s designated teacher leader to facilitate a cross-disciplinary team in a process of self-assessment and action planning based on the School Support Tool. We require an administrator to be on the cross-disciplinary school team, and we provide them with their own training on the tool and support to understand their role in the process. We are still struggling with motivating administrators to commit to the process, to actively support their teams, and to give their teams the necessary time and space to do collaborative work.

avatar for Alissa Berg

Alissa Berg

Associate Director, Science Curriculum & Instruction, Academy for Urban School Leadership

Christine Newman

Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering
avatar for Rex Babiera

Rex Babiera

Manager, Science Leadership Initiative, Museum of Science and Industry

Tuesday March 26, 2019 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Treetops B

Attendees (18)