During this five-year study, the University of Miami (UM) and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) will examine and improve elementary school teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and practices involving their teaching of science to English language learners (or ELL students) within an environment that is becoming increasingly driven by high-stakes testing in science. The four major research and development areas are (1) teachers’ initial knowledge, beliefs, and practices; (2) professional development intervention; (3) policy contexts; and (4) improvement among teachers and their ELL students.
All third through fifth grade teachers in 12 M-DCPS elementary schools that enroll large numbers of ELL students will participate in a professional development intervention primarily through the provision of instructional units and teacher workshops. Six schools enroll Spanish-speaking students; the other 6, Haitian-Creole speakers. Initial participation in the intervention will be determined randomly, with the eight experimental group schools engaging in the intervention for three years and one-year follow up without the intervention (sustainability) and the four comparison group schools engaging in the intervention during their final two years (replicability).
Additionally, the University of Miami preservice elementary teachers will participate in the project. We will examine how both preservice and practicing teachers grow in their use of reform-oriented practices and how they balance that with the demands of high-stakes testing and accountability in Florida’s policy environment where third-grade students who fail the statewide reading assessment are retained and where science assessment for school accountability will begin during school year 2006-2007.
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