System-Wide Change: An Experimental Study of Teacher Development and Student Achievement in Elementary Science
The central goal of this study is to test experimentally the impact on student achievement of a content-rich, systemic intervention in teacher development for elementary school science in a large, urban school district. System-Wide Change is a broad-based approach to science teaching and learning that involves a partnership among university scientists, science educators, and K-12 practitioners. It addresses preservice, in-service, and curricular development and is supported by a comprehensive NSF Math and Science Partnership known as SCALE (System Wide Change for All Learners and Educators). In this study we test the achievement benefits of the System-Wide Change elementary science component, which provides fourth- and fifth-grade teachers with professional development in summer institutes and ongoing coaching and mentoring in the use of detailed instructional guides for elementary science. The guides contain conceptual lessons coupled with science immersion units that bring teachers and students through a full cycle of inquiry in core problems of scientific investigation, leading to deeper understanding of science, higher scores on science achievement tests, and reduced inequality of science achievement.