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S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation;
With its long-standing commitment to STEM education, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation viewed California's 2013 adoption of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as an excellent opportunity to support educators and their students as they transition to these rigorous and engaging standards. This opportunity aligned with the Foundation's overarching emphasis on supporting adult leaders as the most effective way to achieve our goal of providing students with high-quality STEM education.The Foundation launched the six-year NGSS Early Implementers Initiative in 2014. It supports eight diverse California school districts committed to implementing NGSS in their K-8 schools. All districts are incorporating the state's preferred integrated course model for science instruction in middle school. The K-12 Alliance at WestEd, a highly respected provider of professional learning and technical assistance services to school districts, leads the Initiative. Two charter management organizations also participate through funding provided by other sources.The broad goal of the Initiative is to successfully support initial implementation of the science standards in a set of districts to inform state-level decisions and set the stage for statewide implementation. The experiences of the Early Implementers, as well as the tools developed through the Initiative process, are expected to make it easier for other California districts as they implement NGSS. A separate arm of WestEd documents the Early Implementers' approaches, successes, and lessons learned in a series of evaluation reports. The Foundation has invested approximately $25 million in service of this goal.
California counties and school districts are implementing a critically needed change in how they evaluate science instructional materials before investing in local adoption. Past adoptions were often too superficial in nature, focusing on candidate materials' overall look and feel, use of graphical elements, and availability of ancillary materials while insufficiently attending to the substance of the materials for high-quality teaching and learning. In contrast, the California NGSS Toolkit for Instructional Materials Evaluation (hereafter referred to as TIME) process enables participants to use evidence-based measures to choose materials aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that meet their district's needs.This 11th report in the NGSS Early Implementers Initiative evaluation series is intended for school and district administrators, leaders of science professional learning, and state policymakers. It provides an overview of the full TIME process, including participants' perceptions, a detailed description of the statewide TIME trainings of 2018-19, and a vignette that illustrates a portion of the TIME process.
This 13th report in WestEd's evaluation of the K-8 Early Implementers Initiative for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provides an extensive response to the following question: What does NGSS teaching look like in the classroom? The report also briefly describes specific ways that teachers have advanced in their NGSS teaching over the years of the Initiative and how the Initiative prepared them for such teaching.The report draws most strongly from more than 50 classroom observations of, and interviews with, 24 teachers across six districts. It is also informed by multiple interviews with each district Project Director as well as results of an annual survey with high response rates from more than 500 K-8 science teachers.
Many educational initiatives are funded for only a couple of years. The California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative spanned an extraordinary six years, during which eight school districts worked toward districtwide implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which call for teachers to transform their instructional practice. This 12th report in our evaluation series for policymakers, school and district administrators, and professional learning specialists describes the Initiative's scale-up in its later years to reach all K-8 science teachers. Specifically, the report addresses the following questions:In contrast to focusing in Years 1-4 on developing Teacher Leaders, what strategies did districts use in Years 5-6 to reach all other K-8 teachers of science (called "expansion teachers" in this report)?What impacts has the Initiative had on expansion teachers?Which professional learning strategies have been most and least effective for influencing the practice of expansion teachers?What special attention was paid to providing administrators with professional learning to prompt their support of NGSS implementation?
From 2014 through 2020, eight diverse school districts and two charter management organizations ran a substantial experiment with ways of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in elementary and middle grades, called the California K - 8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative. The Initiative certainly illustrated that a big financial investment can produce powerful change. However, even districts facing resource challenges may benefit from the lessons that were learned and the strategies that were developed by the Initiative.An external evaluation team has previously released a series of reports on what can be learned from the efforts of the Initiative districts. All reports are intended to be helpful to administrators at the school and district levels, education policymakers, and people charged with designing and/or delivering science professional learning. After briefly describing how the NGSS call for big shifts in science teaching and learning, this highlights report shares high-level, major learnings from the evaluation, distilled into only a couple dozen pages of main narrative. The report describes NGSS instruction as a powerful lever for equitable learning, explains how the Initiative made this kind of instruction happen, and describes the importance of the Initiative's ambitious professional learning for administrators.
While reports about teacher leadership are common, the story of leadership development in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative (known in short as the Early Implementers Initiative) has some unique aspects worth reading about.Many projects aiming to implement widespread changes in teaching use a train-the-trainers model. That is, some teachers participate in professional learning, and they, in turn, provide professional learning to other teachers.The Early Implementers Initiative strongly expanded upon this model. The Initiative deeply prepared teachers for the foundational role of being leaders in how to implement science teaching called for by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). However, the Initiative also explicitly prepared teachers to become catalysts for change in their districts.This seventh report in a series of evaluation reports about the Initiative is intended primarily for state and district leaders, including school principals, and leaders of teacher professional learning. Based on extensive observations, interviews, and surveys, the report describes teacher leadership development and its benefits in the first four years (2014-2018) of the six-year Initiative. The report describes how the Initiative prepared teachers for leadership in NGSS teaching, including how it created a culture of collaboration that produced change agents for science education and NGSS implementation; and how the leadership experience affected teacher leaders' actions and professional growth.Professional learning for close to 500 teacher leaders was led by WestEd's K-12 Alliance in collaboration with the Initiative's district Project Directors. The participants in each district included dozens of Teacher Leaders who experienced 9 days per year of professional learning. Additionally, about 9 Core Teacher Leaders1 per district received 12 days per year of further learning opportunities.The two main vehicles of professional learning every year, experienced by both levels of teacher leaders, were (a) weeklong, Initiative-wide Summer Institutes held centrally for teacher leaders from all districts; and (b) two two-day cycles of Teaching Learning Collaboratives (TLCs, a strong version of lesson studies) held during the school year.
This evaluation report describes a central professional learning strategy that the California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative used to help teachers effectively transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Initiative's approach to lesson study, called a Teaching Learning Collaborative (TLC), brings together teams of teachers who collaboratively plan, teach, critique, and then re-teach NGSS lessons. Trained facilitators ensure that participants feel professionally safe and supported to experiment with the substantial and sometimes daunting instructional shifts required by the NGSS. The especially strong emphasis on active collaboration is why the Initiative uses the term "TLC" rather than the more general, commonly used term "lesson studies."Initiative leaders chose to focus heavily on TLCs because, while teacher professional learning often takes place outside of the classroom, TLCs, like all lesson studies, provide true hands-on learning in a classroom setting where teachers can grapple with authentic instructional issues.All NGSS Early Implementer districts followed the same TLC model during Years 1 through 4 of the Initiative. In Year 5, when grant funding began to scale back and professional learning became less centralized, districts made a variety of modifications to TLCs to meet their local needs and circumstances.This report describes:- The original TLC model used Initiative-wide in Years 1-4, and its benefits- District modifications to TLCs in Year 5- Feedback from participants about what was gained and lost through those modifications- Recommendations for using TLCs as NGSS professional learningLike the entire evaluation series for the NGSS Early Implementers Initiative, this report provides useful information to school and district administrators, leaders of science professional learning, and state policymakers. The report is based on an extensive amount of data: evaluators' observation of 27 TLCs; responses from a dozen surveys; and over 100 interviews with teachers, administrators, district Project Directors, and K-12 Alliance Regional Directors.
This report describes how effective environmental literacy can be for catalyzing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) teaching, and how the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative has provided professional learning about environmental literacy to prompt and support this synergy. The report also outlines how the California Science Framework and the Human Impacts standards of the NGSS clearly call for such synergy.This is the ninth report in a series of evaluation reports about the Initiative, which are all intended for school and district administrators, leaders of science professional learning, and state policymakers. It draws on surveys, interviews, and observations of environmental literacy-focused lessons.
Administrators need learning opportunities if they are to adequately understand the substantial shifts of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and support teachers in implementing them. Accordingly, the K-8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative has consistently expanded the professional learning it provides for administrators, particularly for site administrators, who generally have the most contact with teachers. This tenth evaluation report in the series, intended for site and district administrators and state leaders, highlights:- The professional learning strategies used by the Initiative to engage and empower administrators to support NGSS implementation (includes two district vignettes)- The impact of the professional learning on administrator understanding and actions- The challenges experienced by the Initiative in trying to involve administrators- Recommendations for increasing administrator help with science implementation
This evaluation report describes the benefits that students are getting from their districts' participation in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative. The findings are drawn from surveys of administrators, teachers, and students; interviews with select administrators and teachers; and classroom observations of 22 case study teachers. The report also presents an extended vignette of a grade 4 lesson to illustrate the student experiences and benefits that occur in NGSS instruction.
NGSS Early Implementers is a four-year initiative created to help eight California school districts and two charter management organizations, supported by WestEd's K-12 Alliance, implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).Designed for professional developers and administrators, this report describes 10 tools and processes that are central in the professional learning provided to teachers and administrators in the participating school districts.The tools and processes are designed to aid NGSS lesson planning, NGSS instruction, and administrator support during implementation. The 10 tools and processes presented in the publication are listed below.Criteria for Choosing PhenomenaPhenomena-Based, Three-Dimensional Conceptual Flow5E Instructional Model for Developing Learning SequencesTeaching Learning Collaborative (TLC)Looking at Student WorkQuestioning Strategies that Promote Student DiscourseSense-Making Student NotebooksPrincipal AcademyWalk-Through ProtocolEvidence of Learning ProtocolAll tools and processes were created or adapted to be used explicitly for supporting NGSS implementation. The report describes each item, how it has been used, and how participants are benefitting from it. Other districts and schools can learn from, draw upon, and adapt the items to support their own implementation efforts.
Many California districts are ramping up their efforts to enhance science teaching, in part because of the new California Science Test (CAST) coming online. The CAST is aligned with the revised California Science Framework, which mirrors the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS calls for substantial changes in science teaching and learning. Given this context, how are districts escalating their attention to NGSS implementation?The K-8 Early Implementers Initiative has found that careful planning is critical. With thin planning, unexpected detours or dead ends are likely. However, with solid planning, districts are more likely to achieve their implementation goals and may discover some express lanes for their implementation journey!In this evaluation report, we document lessons learned by the Early Implementer districts through their development and use of master district plans for NGSS implementation. Intended for district-level administrators and state education policymakers, this report is the fourth in a series of evaluation releases. The report is based primarily on inspection of districts' thorough NGSS implementation plans and extensive interviews with district project directors and the regional directors from WestEd's K-12 Alliance. The report's main topics are:- Benefits of developing an NGSS implementation plan- Processes used to develop plan components, including overcoming challenges- Recommendations for developing plans- Sample components of districts' NGSS implementation plansWe hope that readers will not be put off by the report's seemingly large size. While the main narrative is relatively brief, the report also provides over 40 pages of practical samples in the appendix to give readers a clear idea of what goes into a thorough NGSS implementation plan. As readers will have different interests and needs, we included a wide variety of examples.