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RESPeCT Profile

Reinvigorating Elementary Science through a Partnership with CA Teachers (RESPeCT):Sustainable research-based professional development with teacher leaders in a high-needs district


The Reinvigorating Elementary Science through Partnership with California Teachers (RESPeCT) project is a partnership-driven effort based on mutual trust and a shared vision among Pomona Unified School District (PUSD), California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) as Core Partners, and the non-profit Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) as a Supporting Partner. The RESPeCT project is developing, implementing, and studying an innovative and sustainable solution to critical problems of national importance--the unacceptable number of K-6 students who are failing to develop a rudimentary understanding of science, and the clear and persistent achievement gaps in students' understanding of science. The RESPeCT project builds on and puts into practice a successful videocase-based, analysis-of-practice professional development approach, in combination with a leadership development component, for Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers in a high-needs district. Over the five year life of the project, RESPeCT is developing a cadre of 42 K-6 Teacher Leaders, with support from CPP science and mathematics faculty, and these Teacher Leaders will sustain and lead future RESPeCT professional development efforts to reach all K-6 teachers in PUSD, supporting the teaching of challenging science content for all students. The RESPeCT Project directly benefits 168 teachers (30% of PUSD elementary teachers) and over 7,500 K-6 students and is transforming the way science is taught and learned in PUSD. Ultimately, all 511 elementary PUSD teachers and their students will benefit from the RESPeCT project. PUSD is designing a fiscal plan to continue and sustain the RESPeCT PD program and partnerships with CPP faculty far beyond the life of the project. The RESPeCT research team employs a rigorous research design, including a control group of teachers, to examine the impact of the RESPeCT professional development on PUSD students, teachers (including Teacher Leaders) and CPP faculty. RESPeCT is an Implementation project in the Current Issues Related to STEM Content focal area.

A major contribution of the RESPeCT project is the development of videocases and shared curriculum materials aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that integrate selected Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from Mathematics and English language arts (ELA) to empower teachers to teach science while relieving pressures to focus solely on mathematics and ELA. The development of fourteen modules related to life, physical, and earth and space science, concentrated within two cross-cutting concepts (energy & matter and stability & change) from the NGSS and incorporating mathematical and ELA standards is a major component of this project. The materials will be available to districts and teachers across the country. In addition, the RESPeCT project includes professional development for university faculty in leading elementary teacher learning communities. Insights into teaching and learning gained by university faculty is helping science, mathematics, and education faculty reform courses for science and mathematics majors and preservice teachers. RESPeCT serves as a national NSF-MSP model for broad-based collaborations that transform science teaching and learning. The project has special relevance for motivating and supporting teachers who serve students from underrepresented groups.