Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

BSCS Science Learning Awarded $8 Million Research Grant by US Department of Education

September 30, 2019

BSCS Science Learning has been awarded funding for the first three years of an $8 million grant by the US Department of Education (DOE). This five-year grant aims to scale, refine, test, and sustain its nationally-recognized teacher professional development (PD) program, Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA®). Aligned to the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), STeLLA builds on 15 years of research and development and has been shown to improve both teacher instructional practice and student achievement in science.

BSCS will address a major need in elementary science education by producing a highly effective science PD model that is practical for broad implementation. This project—which includes an emphasis on rural schools—is funded through the DOE’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program.

“There’s a growing consensus that student success in elementary science is crucial for future engagement and achievement across STEM areas. But elementary educators need support navigating the demands of next generation science classrooms and preparing students to apply science in their lives and careers,” said Dr. Chris Wilson, BSCS director of research and EIR project director. “This is among the many reasons why BSCS is so invested in making our STeLLA PD program more widely accessible. It has demonstrated impacts on both teacher and student learning above and beyond any impacts from a traditional science professional development program.”

STeLLA helps educators learn when and how to use high-leverage science teaching strategies through video-based lesson analysis. BSCS has implemented and evaluated STeLLA across a variety of contexts–including in teacher preparation (preservice) and continuing education programs (inservice); in district-wide programs and in programs enrolling individual teachers; in programs for elementary, middle, and high school teachers; and in programs facilitated in person and online.

This EIR project will explore a variety of strategies for scaling up STeLLA PD. Strategies include developing a cohort of local leaders working with teachers via a combination of face-to-face and online engagement. BSCS will collaborate with fourth and fifth grade teachers in Kentucky and Tennessee, where a significant number of students are high needs. The majority of teachers participating in this project will be from rural schools.

Local partners include regional leaders at PIMSER (the Eastern Kentucky University Partnership Institute for Math and Science Education Reform), Tennessee Aquarium, and Instruction Partners (a nonprofit supporting schools and districts in reform efforts), who will engage state and local leaders and build local, long-term capacity. The American Institute for Research (AIR) will lead the research component of the project to help inform BSCS’s continuous refinement of the STeLLA model.

“Our goal is to introduce a sustainable model of STeLLA that will continue to enhance teacher instructional practice and student achievement in science far beyond the timeframe of this project,” said Jody Bintz, BSCS associate director for strategic partnerships & professional learning. “Local leaders will be invaluable partners in this work, and we will use what we learn from them to apply this model more broadly.”

BSCS is the sole Colorado-based grant recipient among 41 school districts, nonprofit organizations, and state educational agencies funded this year by the DOE’s EIR program.

“This is the biggest research grant BSCS has received in our 60-year history,” said Dr. Daniel Edelson, BSCS executive director. “We are proud to bring national attention to the innovative science education research and development taking place in Colorado Springs. This project builds on a study we conducted across Colorado’s Front Range 10 years ago, and will result in a refined STeLLA program that we can offer to educators in Colorado and across the country.”

The dollar amount of Federal funds for this project is $7,999,249 (91 percent of the total costs). Non-governmental sources will finance $799,979 (9 percent of the total costs) of this project.