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BaySci: A Partnership for Bay Area Science Education—August 2014 Evaluation Report
We examined how and to what degree science instruction changed in the classrooms of districts, schools, and individuals participating in BaySci programming. We sought evidence of changes in classroom practice, student learning and engagement, and district and school culture. Specifically, the evaluation documented evidence aligned with four intended outcomes in the BaySci program logic model:
- Evaluation Goal 1: Describe changes in leadership and culture in districts participating in the District Strand or that have Science Champions Strand participants among their school staff.
Our findings in this area are that participants rated their districts favorably on several indicators of science leadership and culture. Many of the features of science leadership most appreciated by participants, such as the use of dedicated staff for science and strong support for science through materials management, were among those targeted through BaySci’s district level interventions.
- Evaluation Goal 2: Describe changes in elementary science instructional practices in districts participating in the BaySci District Strand and Science Champions Strand.
Participating BaySci teachers and science specialists reported offering more science overall since starting to work with BaySci. These gains came primarily through more extended lesson length rather than through more frequent lessons. The largest increases in the amount of science offered between the start of BaySci and the fall of 2013 were in the districts that have participated in BaySci the longest. Teachers and science specialists reported offering more inquiry-oriented science and increasingly integrating English language arts (ELA) with their science instruction since joining BaySci.
- Evaluation Goal 3: Analyze changes in the professional capacity and network of participants in the BaySci SREI Learning Community.
The SREI learning community provided unprecedented opportunities for staff who work to support school and district improvement in science to talk about the big ideas that shape their work, learn about current research related to their work, and build professional connections with SREI professionals working on similar problems in different settings. Many participants in the SREI Learning Community came away from their experiences with new ideas for approaching the support they provide to schools and districts.
- Evaluation Goal 4: Document student engagement and learning outcomes for students whose instruction is influenced by BaySci professional development or district leadership.
Teachers reported that students were more engaged in science since they started working in BaySci. Teachers also reported that integration of science with ELA had contributed to improvements in student abilities to express ideas in writing and verbally.
Each of the expected outcomes and evaluation goals from the BaySci Logic model is described more fully in the report. This report also documents the diverse efforts of BaySci to improve science instruction in Bay Area schools and highlights the key findings of the evaluation.