NGSS Update: Empowering Teachers to Empower Students for the Future of STEM

Last year, we partnered with the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE) at CSU Dominguez Hills to expand our teacher training pilot on the state adopted, industry recognized Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to more teachers in the LA region.  We successfully secured a $200k grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation and a $25k grant from the Annenberg Foundation to train two more cohorts of 50 teachers (100 total) over two years.

We are pleased to report that the first cohort of 55 grades K-9 teachers were trained in fall 2018.  The following is a snapshot of the teachers served:

  • 56% of participants were teachers from LAUSD

  • 19% of participants were teachers from Compton USD

  • 17% of participants were teachers from Inglewood USD

  • 8% of participants were teachers from other local districts

  • 83% of participants indicated that they had been teaching for three or more years

  • 51% of participants taught multiple subjects

  • 40% of participants taught science

  • 9% of participants taught mathematics

One of the primary focuses of the training was to establish the foundation for the new standards. Participants learned about the organization of NGSS, identifying what Performance Expectations (PE), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Cross-Cutting Concepts (CCCS) are, and how they compare to the previous set of standards. Teachers then explored how teaching with an emphasis on DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs, referred to as 3 Dimensional Learning, better prepares students for college and career readiness.

Beyond learning the fundamentals, teachers received real-time feedback from NGSS experts on their application through classroom observations.  NGSS experts and teachers met in advance to agree on the observation focus and review lesson plans. Teachers also worked on teams with fellow trainees to engage in collaborative planning-teaching-observation of learning, followed by lesson evaluation and refinement.

NGSS Super Training participants also obtained the Beginner Level Certification in Fabrication Technology, which certifies teachers as basic, proficient, and advanced in the use of fabrication laboratory equipment for curriculum design and delivery.  CSUDH maintains a fleet of mobile fabrication laboratories (mobile fab labs) equipped with tools and technology, such as laser cutters to create 2D and 3D structures, 3D printers, and electronic components for prototyping projects.  These labs travel to K-12 schools where teachers can incorporate their offerings into teaching techniques that engage and excite students in STEM education.

Based on the data collected throughout the training, participants found the training to be a valuable experience. Each teacher had an opportunity to demonstrate mastery and an ability to integrate the NGSS and Fabrication Technology into a unit of instruction, which was submitted into a shared google drive folder, for free accessibility. We are excited to report:

  • 100% of completers stated that they will be able to facilitate at least 1 NGSS Professional Development at their school site, for colleagues, after completing the NGSS Super Training

  • 86% of participants indicated that they would be interested in receiving additional certification if provided the opportunity

  • 100% of participants indicated that they would recommend this training series to other teachers

Overall, program completers understand and can apply NGSS in their classrooms, thus contributing to the national effort as well as our local effort to implement the new standards one school at a time. CISE is currently in the training evaluation and revision phase of the project and the next cohort of teachers are being recruited for training during the March-May 2019 cycle.

While we are still a few years away from being able to measure and evaluate the impact on college and community college completion and matriculation rates, we feel confident about the impact our program has had on increasing students’ immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content. In context, each one of the 55 teachers who completed our program teaches about 150 students each year, hence impacting over 8,000 students in one year who will benefit from their teachers’ new knowledge and enthusiasm. Over five years, these 55 teachers will reach 40,000 students! That means 40,000 more students excited and inspired about STEM and fabrication technology. That’s 40,000 more individuals who will contribute to making Los Angeles a better place to live and work.