Sustainability: Out-Live Out-Last Out-Reach
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Poster Presentation Full Text:
Since materials can be considered the "lynchpin" of the science reform effort, policies regarding the purchase, management and refurbishment of materials become critical to the maintenance and the sustainability of the effort.

Poster presentations are composed in four parts:
  • Original goals for project sustainability under ideal conditions
  • Reflections on these goals from the end of the project funding cycle
  • Suggestions for projects starting out; or, how we might have done things differently
  • Questions for other project's staff to reply to


Original goals for project sustainability under ideal conditions

Our vision for the reform of science teaching and learning was based on the research based beliefs that three foundational components would be developed, maintained and sustained. These elements - sustained comprehensive professional development, material support and school and district based supports for teachers were necessary in order to move teachers toward the effective implementation of inquiry based teaching and learning in all of our kindergarten through sixth grade teachers. Towards this end, the districts funded school based science teacher facilitators and a centralized Materials Management Center (MMC) which refurbishes almost 2000 boxes of manipulative materials (science instructional modules) for almost 20,000 elementary school students in our school districts.

As early as September 1996, our first year of funding, we began to plan for the institutionalization of the SMART Process. We believed that it was critical to build in both capacity and redundancy, of both leadership and infrastructure, if our LSC was going to continue beyond the NSF funding period. We needed to deep root the Process in order that it would be insulated from prospective changes in city, district and school administrations, and in the academic landscape that was increasingly emphasizing language arts and mathematics literacy.

It was our plan that when the grant ended there would be a seamless transition, and that the districts would support the Process. Staff development that was initially supported by NSF would be supported by other federal and local dollars. Teacher Facilitators who were supported by district funds would be continued, and the Materials Management Center staffing would fully be supported. Additionally, there would be an ongoing funding stream to provide for the replenishment of our science materials.


Reflections on these goals from the end of the project funding cycle

As we end our no cost extension year, six years after we began our reform effort, it should be noted that:

In spite of all of this however, the infrastructure of the MMC has remained intact, although there are some forces at work to move it from its present location. We have always believed that if the flow of materials and the ability to manage them can be maintained, so can the effort. As we enter this post grant period, this has been our mission. Although the intensity of professional development may be diminished, it will continue through other funding sources. And although we no longer have full time facilitators, many of those individuals remain in their schools in science related positions.

The question to answer is, how do we reform science teaching and learning in isolation from school reform in general? In fact we cannot. Reform requires a change in both school and district culture. Changing the attitudes and beliefs of administrators and teachers is a prerequisite to changing behaviors and practices. It is imperative to work with administrators and teachers in preparation for the changes you want to implement and intensively throughout the process. Buy-in is critical. This cannot be the vision of science reform zealots alone. It must be the collective vision of the superintendent, principals, teachers and all other constituencies who will be affected by the reform.

The science reform effort cannot compete for shelf space with language arts and mathematics reform efforts. Science will always lose out. The key is to demonstrate to administrators and teachers that science is about literacy and the danger is for it not to lose its integrity as a process and a discipline.

Another critical element that many of us struggle with is assessment. We must demonstrate, with more than anecdotal evidence, that our efforts not only improve teachers' abilities to implement inquiry through the use of exemplary curricula, but that it will translate into enhanced student achievement.


Suggestions for projects starting out; or, how we might have done things differently


Questions for other project's staff to reply to

Howard Nadler of The Science, Mathematics and Related Technology (SMART) Process project.


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