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Infusing an Integrated Science Program and the Effects on Student Achievement. Dr. Jean E. Teal, Principal Mrs. Sandra Pelham, Vice Principal Ms. Sacha T. Challenger, Teacher Leader Ms. Thelma Davis, Professional Partner Miami Edison Senior High School
Dr. Jean E. Teal, Principal
Mrs. Sandra Pelham, Vice Principal
Ms. Sacha T. Challenger, Teacher Leader
Ms. Thelma Davis, Professional Partner
Miami Edison Senior High School
Superintendent’s Urban Principal Initiative
The focus of this action research was to implement the District’s Secondary Science Pacing Guide as a curriculum map that integrates Physical Science, Biology, and Earth Space Science curriculum with Scientific Thinking, monitor student progress through lesson plans, School Improvement Zone (SIZ) assessments and District assessments which are aligned with the Sunshine State Standards benchmarks.
Miami Edison Senior High School (MESH) seeks to be a safe, supportive, and nurturing community which inspires all students to perform at high levels of learning. High standards and continuous improvement is embedded within our school culture to inspire lifelong learners to flourish in a global society.
MESH’s action research project used a district developed Integrated Science curriculum to impact the motivation of students in 11th grade and to increase assessment scores. The research focused on raising the achievement and performance levels for all students.
The School Improvement Zone (SIZ) is a differentiated approach to public education that promotes high achievement and eliminates low student performance for students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. MESH is apart of the SIZ.
The results of the 2007 state mandated standardized science assessment indicated that 90% of the students in 11th grade did not meet the standards. A detailed analysis of clustered scores in the state mandated standardized science assessment revealed that students in 11th grade were weakest in Physical/Chemical and Life/Environmental. Other analysis indicated that the mean scale score of 11th grade students at MESH is 264, a 36 point increase, as compared to the previous year.
Miami Edison Senior High School is a historic Miami-Dade County Public School which opened in 1917. It is a Title 1 school located between the inner-city Miami neighborhoods known as “Little Haiti” and “Liberty City”. Since the mid-seventies, an influx of people of Caribbean and South America descent have enriched the cultural aspect of the community.
The school’s capacity is 2219, with a current enrollment of 1136. The ethnic/racial makeup of the student body is 1017 African American students, 108 Hispanic students, 9 White, and 2 Other. Of the current enrollment, 13% of the students are Students with Disabilities (SWD) and 20% are Limited English Proficient (LEP), with 290 students being served in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.
Approximately 73% of the students receive free or reduced lunch. A recent School Profile Report from 2004-2005 reports the mobility index at 50%.
Because MESH is apart of the SIZ, we are required to participate in numerous SIZ assessments as well as District assessments. These assessments provide meaningful data and progress for each student. This data is analyzed and disaggregated by teachers, students, assessed benchmarks, grade levels, and sub groups. This comprehensive analysis allows for curricular adjustments and implementation of interventions.
How will the infusion of an integrated science curriculum in 11th grade science classes, increase student achievement/performance on the Science benchmarks?
Research has shown that learning is more powerfully enabled when curricula are integrated such that connections are established between subject areas rather than as fragmented islands of information or knowledge (Drake, 1993; Edling, 1996; Lewis & Shaha, 1999).
Prior research has also supported the premise that integrate curricula produce superior educational results through classroom instruction that incorporates various subject matters as an interconnected whole rather than separate subject areas.
Educators as a whole make every conscious effort to do what is best for their students. They willingly embrace new ideas and incorporate them into their instruction and curricula in their quest for improved educational results. (Jenkins, 1997; Lewis, 2000)
Educators are most likely to succeed, and therefore continue the improvement of their curricula and instruction, when provided with some means for achieving the success through a pragmatic and user-friendly process for curriculum development. (Baldrige, 2002; Drake, 1993)
Jenkins (1997) reports that motivation for learning is increased when students work on “real” problems a common element in intergrated programs. When students are activiely involved in planning their learning and in making choices, they are more motivated, reducing behavior problems.
Shaha (1983) reports that an integrated curriculum is associated with better student self-direction, higher attendance, higher levels of homework completion, and better attitudes toward school. Students are engaged in their learning as they make connections across disciplines and with the world outside the classroom.
The purpose of this 36 week intervention was to provide opportunities for 11th grade students to investigate the theories and ideas associated with Biological Life/Environmental, Scientific Thinking, Earth Space, and Physical /Chemical sciences in a way that is relevant and usable.
Every 11th grade student was enrolled in an Integrate Science III course that incorporated 100 minutes of science laboratory activities per week. Weekly laboratories included hands-on activities using inquiry-based activities.
Students were provided learning opportunities through science tutorials. Tutoring sessions were offered during school, after school, and on Saturdays.
The intervention curriculum addressed the following “best practice” recommendations:
Multiple Exposure Curriculum
Varied Methods of Assessment
Math and Reading Skills Development
Challenging Learning Extensions
Use of Data
Cooperative Grouping Strategies
Sharing Best Practices
Extensive Laboratory Activities
The use of the Integrated Science curriculum yielded promising results in how to meet student science needs. By focusing on the four strands, students within the lowest 40% were able to receive during school and after school intervention.
Results of the 2008 FCAT Science Test will indicate the percentage of students who scored Achievement Level 3 or above. MESH will continue to track progress monitoring by conducting school wide monthly assessments, District assessments, and weekly Science Lab activities. Teachers will collaboratively decide student needs from the assessment results and discuss other factors that may have led to low student achievement.
The data revealed the 11th grade students overall average of mastery on the Mid Year Assessment was 1%. 99% percent scored non-mastery on the Mid Year Assessment.
The overall performance on the Mid Year Assessment was 33%. The strongest cluster was Scientific Thinking at 35%. Students continued to struggled with Physical/Chemical at 31%. During the Mid Year Assessment Earth/Space and the Biological/Environmental strands were not assessed.
February Assessment which included all four strands, students scored the highest percentage at 42 percent. Earth/Space and Biological/Environment was the lowest at 37% and 38% respectively.
Comparing the Pretest in August to the FCAT Mock Assessment in February, there was an increase in overall percentage from 27% to 42%.
Overall comparison all four strands improve from August to February.
Physical/Chemical from 26% to 48%
Earth Space from 30% to 37%
Biological/Environmental from 24% to 38%
Scientific Thinking from 32% to 47%
Continued strategies and activities that are being implemented to support the Integrated Science Program:
K-12 Comprehensive Science Plan
Integrated Science Professional Development
District’s Science Pacing Guides
Curriculum Support Specialist
Mini Lab Demonstrations
Collaboration with Fellow Science and Math Teachers
School-wide Science Focus Calendar
Various Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies (CRISS)
Differentiated Instruction Training
Deliverance of a relevant and rigorous curriculum.
Students are more engaged in hand-on laboratory activities, appended to specific benchmarks.
Students are engaged in teacher/student Data Talks that increase and promoted ownership of his or her academic progress
Science classrooms are print rich and inviting
Science teachers are continuing to work collaboratively and sharing best practices.
Collaboration with Mathematics Department
Teacher and students awareness of science benchmarks have increased.
The success of the curriculum can be contributed to thorough planning, engaging and high interest hands on activities, highly effective and committed teachers, consistent progress monitoring, and administrative reviews.
Implementation of classroom activities and project based learning (which included laboratories, cooperative grouping, and problem solving strategies) utilizing project based software to provide all students with an inquiry based scientific approach which employs all the elements of the scientific method to further the development of science process skills.
Data generated by school site developed monthly assessments will be used to redirect classroom instruction and create flexible tutorials.
Collaboration with Mathematics Department in reinforcing concepts and skills (graphing, data analysis, formula manipulation etc.) that is consequential to science learning.
Integrated Science Teachers had common planning period. Data from these assessments were reviewed, disaggregated, displayed and disseminated to teachers in an effort to evaluate and monitor student learning in the classroom.
During these common planning periods, curriculum maps and instructional focus calendars were adjusted and modified based on students’ results.
Students’ test data were continually examined and strategies and accommodations were explored to ensure adequate learning gains were met. Data was disseminated to students via individual “Data Talks”.
Advanced students were required to take an additional science course. These students continued to excel in both science courses.
Students took ownership of their academic growth in which produced outstanding results.
Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the students’ performance was in place to ensure that the delivery of instruction at the school met the students’ needs and that it was aligned to the assessed standards.
Continue to engage students in hands-on laboratory activities, appended to specific benchmarks both annually assessed as well as content standard.
Expose students in Grade 10 to annually assessed science benchmarks.
Continue to support student needs in Science through in-school instruction and small group tutorials.
Innovative ways to encourage students’ participation in Saturday tutorials.
Continue to provide intensive targeted pullout tutorials for 11th grade students.
Engage students in teacher/student data talks to increase promote ownership of academic progress.
Baldrige, M. (2002) National Institutes for
Standards and Technology. Gaithersburg, MD.
Drake, S.M. (1993). Planning Integrated Curriculum: The Call to
Adventure. Alexandria, VA.
Jenkins, L. (1997). Improving Student Learning. Applying Demings’s
Quality Principles in Classrooms. Milwaukee, WI.
Lewis, V. (1999). Maximizing Success Through Integrated Instruction.
Beaver Creek, CO.
Shaha, S. H. (1983). Cognitive and Affective Process Related to
School Achievement. San Francisco, CA.