The NW ALPS project idea came directly from teachers who wanted to understand how to teach the Washington state science standards with science materials in their classrooms. As a result, the theory of action for the NW ALPS project states that:
Student achievement will improve when teachers know the content that is needed to teach their curriculum, create learning progressions based on that content knowledge and implement those learning progressions by applying formative assessments in their classrooms.
Using this statement as a guide, we conducted pre and post science content assessments of project students and teachers. The result? We saw a significant change in teacher and student understanding of science. Our NW ALPS teachers improved their instruction and noticed a change in their students’ achievement.
Beginning after school started in the fall of 2011, teachers attended two days of professional development, culminating in a drafted learning progression for the specific set of science materials used in their classrooms during winter quarter 2011/12. Before the fall quarter ended, teachers attended a science immersion course (small group sessions in science labs at Skagit Valley College) focused on the content area of their winter set of materials. Content immersion combined with their drafted learning progression and embedded formative assessments made the science within their materials more transparent for NW ALPS teachers.
Throughout winter quarter NW ALPS teachers piloted their learning progressions. They worked with each other (in their schools, Districts and in an online environment) sharing logistical or cognitive struggles and solutions while practicing inquiry strategies with each other and with the higher-ed project faculty. At mid-quarter, teachers gathered to encourage one another and finalize their fledgling learning progressions. Near the end of winter quarter, they began work on the next set of science materials, creating learning progressions and formative assessments for use with their students in spring quarter. In this way, teachers built on their own learning from the first set of materials and practiced with a second set.
Northwest Assessing with Learning Progressions in Science by www.nwesd.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Except where otherwise noted, Assessing with Learning Progressions in Science: Northwest Educational Service District 189 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This work is funded by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Mathematics & Science Partnership under Title II, Part B Program Code: 62CFDA 84.366B