In addition, implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) created a need to improve science instruction across elementary school grades. The new standards require that students engage, apply, and practice doing science, rather than just reading about it - a substantive shift from earlier standards. Many elementary level teachers do not feel well-prepared to teach science in the ways required for students to meet the standards.
In response to these needs, RESPeCT is being being implemented in Pomona and intended to, over time, impact all K-6 classrooms in the district. This is a three-year program in partnership with Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) includes foci on both deepening understanding of science content and teacher leadership development in order to spread teaching expertise.
A key component of RESPeCT is the implementation of STeLLA (Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis) strategies. Participating teachers were particularly drawn to the Strategies for Effective Science Teaching: The Student Thinking and Science Content Storyline Lenses (see chart).
Implementation has had its challenges
- Teachers, even with the best of intentions, have challenges finding time to engage in this work.
- Initially, there was some confusion about the "why" of the work.
- As a result, the number of teachers who have chosen to take on leadership through this initiative has been lower than intended.
The STeLLA conceptual framework is reinvigorating teaching science! The opportunity to observe a lesson, make a claim, provide evidence and reasoning to support your claim, and consider alternative explanations and teaching strategies have provided teachers insight to which strategies effectively help move students’ thinking forward.
Research is being conducted by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to identify the effectiveness of a STeLLA program delivered by trained school district and teacher leaders on both elementary teacher professional learning and student outcomes. Preliminary results are promising. An initial impact study revealed statistically significant improvements in student outcomes that are comparable to results in BSCS(Biological Sciences Curriculum Study) -led STeLLA programs.
Outcomes for Pomona's students are still in the research process, though outcomes in other locales have been impressive. In this randomized-controlled study in Colorado, there was a substantial difference in posttest scores between students whose teachers were in the STeLLA program and students whose teachers were in the traditional program. The difference in scores was equivalent to 23 percentile points, meaning the score of a student in the 50th percentile of the STeLLA group would put that student in the 73rd percentile of the traditional group. Test results also showed STeLLA students were able to answer questions involving more complex scientific reasoning than those in the traditional group.
We believe that outcomes in Pomona will be similar to those in Colorado.