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North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership

Overview:

The North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership (NCOSP) is a targeted Math and Science Partnership involving Western Washington University, Everett Community College, Northwest Indian College, Skagit Valley College, Whatcom Community College, and 26 predominately rural school districts seeking to improve science teaching and learning in both K-12 and higher education through a focus on science education in grades 3-10. University scientists, supported by curriculum and assessment reform specialists and master teachers, are creating, implementing, and exploring innovative content and education courses for future teachers and K-12 professional development models (both on-campus and building-based) in the context of reform curricula. The Partnership Districts are planning science programs, identifying and selecting research-based curriculum materials aligned with state and national standards, creating a materials support system to provide classroom ready materials, implementing classroom-based assessments, preparing teachers to guide students in inquiry-centered science instruction, and increasing administrative and community understanding of the core curriculum.

Key components of the NCOSP include strategic planning to align curriculum to standards, adoption of reform curriculum to enable students to succeed in challenging courses, engaging superintendents and guidance counselors in community support, and Principal Support. The Partnership is implementing a three year Teacher Leadership Academy to produce a Teacher Leadership Cadre consisting of building-based and district-level Teacher Leaders and university-based Teachers on Special Assignments (TOSAs) who work as peers with science faculty in designing the Teacher Leadership Academy, providing professional development for District Leaders, reforming science methods courses, and designing a science course sequence for elementary teachers. District partners attend LASER Curriculum Showcases to assist in curriculum adoption decisions and LASER Specialized Symposia are offered for principals, guidance counselors and community members to generate support from key stakeholders. Principals participate with Teacher Leaders in Teacher Leadership Academies. Preservice reform is focusing on introductory science courses targeted for elementary teachers and the alignment of preservice science curriculum with the needs of K-12 districts, strengthening both science content and pedagogical knowledge and the connections to reform curriculum used in the partner school districts. The partner higher education institutions are implementing a common standards-based yearlong undergraduate science course sequence for future elementary teachers. Teacher preparation programs include field experiences in classrooms with Teacher Leaders who are implementing research-based curricula. Teacher leaders serve as mentors for student teachers and novice teachers. Teacher recruitment strategies include scholarship support, future teacher clubs, and high school teaching academies. A multidisciplinary group of science faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students is conducting research on the goals of the project, ultimately examining the impact of science faculty on curriculum selection and implementation, teacher practice, and student learning. The project expects to impact 72,000 students in grades 3 -12, 2,500 preservice students, and 1,140 inservice teachers.