K-12 SCIENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES: CONTENT ENRICHMENT AND LESSON DESIGN, CLASSROOM IMPLICATIONS, AND ASSESSMENT
K-12 science education is on the “front burner” of U.S. federal education policy, and it has been for three generations. The evolution of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) underscores the perceived need for science education reform; however, the June, 2010 roll-out of the Common Core standards for K-12 mathematics and English language arts (ELA) has driven many states to use financial resources in addressing needs in those academic areas instead. Additionally, most state-mandated tests focus on mathematics and ELA while excluding or minimizing the importance of knowledge of science. Under the assumption that the NGSS will elevate science education to the level of importance as mathematics and ELA education, there will be a move to identify means for supporting science teacher reform; i.e. a quest for identifying, reinforcing, and disseminating “what works” in science education. In the crosshairs of this quest; developing and employing robust evaluation strategies focusing on identifying effective classroom activities, sound pedagogical approaches, and innovative assessment methods designed to measure students’ acquisition of knowledge and skills. Subsequent dissemination of “what works” will help science educators prepare for current and future reforms, including the Next Generation Science Standards.