This RAPID proposal organized by the Consortium for Policy Research (CPRE) at Teachers College, complements the development of a new Framework to guide the next generation of Common Core Science Standards. The Framework calls for standards that are organized around learning progressions (LPs) that address "big" ideas in science that go across grades. Through a series of workshops, CPRE will develop four hypothetical LPs that will serve as a critical tool to states, districts and instructional developers as they plan for using the new standards. The work will be conducted by STEM education learning researchers with participation by state science supervisors. A well-qualified advisory board will review the quality and utility of the hypothetical LPs. The project will be widely disseminated through the CPRE network to all 50 states.

Project Report

Outcomes or Products of Project We have developed detailed descriptions of how students might be expected to acquire deep understanding of two of the core ideas in identified in the National Research Council’s Framework for development of new science standards. The two concepts are: understanding the structure, properties, and transformations of matter and understanding the flow of matter and energy in living systems. These descriptions draw on research on learning and teaching science to lay out the pathways students might be expected to follow to master these concepts. These resources describe the developmental changes taking place in students’ understanding of fundamental ideas in science as they attempt to learn them over the course of their elementary and secondary school experiences. These resources are to be used by science supervisors at the state (or district) level to help them make better decisions about the revision of science standards, the design and selection of curriculum materials and assessments, and the design of science teacher professional development activities. Intellectual Merit of Project This work is important because we need to improve instruction and curriculum in science if we expect to improve overall performance, and we need to improve the policy instruments meant to influence instruction and curriculum: namely standards and assessments. There is research from the learning sciences that can inform the design of these instruments, but typically it is not shared with teachers and other key stakeholder within the education system. Nor is it presented in formats that are directly relevant to the work of teachers or other key stakeholders. This work is an attempt to synthesize and communicate research on learning and teaching for two of the core ideas in science in a format that is directly relevant to the standards that students and schools are held accountable for. The format of the products makes research findings available to policymakers and science education leaders so that it can inform their decisions. The work is original in that is provides a new approach to connecting research to practice that is more than just another report or book. The project is also original in its use of collaboration between education researchers and education professionals (in this case state science supervisors). Broader Impacts We have informed state science supervisors and state-hired STEM consultants across the US of potentially more effective ways to support students in learning core ideas in science using learning progressions. The examples we have provided will help them think about more effective sequences of the content targeted by the new standards and curricula so that teachers will be able to design and implement more coherent instructional experiences for students. The examples we provide also speak to some of the instructional tasks that might promote students learning. Several of our reviewers have expressed interest in using these resources in their professional development activities with teachers or in their work of revising standards or selecting assessments. This suggests our work might have an impact on the key functions carried out by state level staff. The impact of state level policy has the potential to influence thousands of teachers and students. Since our work and approach have implications for developing more coherent, developmentally appropriate, and insightful standards and our project has included people that are developing the new national science standards, led by the Washington DC nonprofit, Achieve, we also hope our work will inform the creation of more coherent voluntary national science standards. We will distribute and present the products of our work to science education researchers through their professional association (the National Association for Research in Science Teaching). Their conference and email-list serve allow us to notify a broad network of professional researchers across the country, who will be able to consider this example of how to connect research to practice. This may stimulate more work like ours, and help fill in the gaps in research needed to support students as they learn fundamental concepts in science.

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Teachers College, Columbia University
New York
United States
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