Implementing Standards-Based Reform:
A District Advisory Committee for Science Education
This example centers on a district-level advisory committee that has been assigned the task of implementing science education standards. The committee has completed a thorough review of the National Science Education Standards and model standards from the state department of education and has overseen the development of science standards by the district. The committee comprises the science supervisor (chair), six outstanding science teachers (two elementary, two middle school, and two high school), a principal, a parent, two scientists (one from a local university and one from a local industry), and two science educators from a nearby university. The committee is well into the process of implementing a standards-based science education program consisting of a district curriculum, a professional development plan, and a district- and school-level assessment process. They already have completed a review of the current science education program (K-12), engaged in an exercise where they created a "desired" program based on standards, and clarified the discrepancies between the desired and actual programs. This exercise identified specific aspects of their program that needed improvement. The committee had developed a shared vision as it completed the exercise of creating a program for the district, one based on science education standards. Now the committee's task was to identify activities and resources that would enable the district to begin to enact the vision.
The example illustrates the system standards by focusing on the coordinated performance of several components of the science education system—namely, the role of school district administration within the district, personnel from a regional education laboratory, scientists, and science educators. The committee understands that its mission is to work with school personnel to bring together the financial, intellectual, and material resources necessary to achieve the vision expressed in the science education standards. The committee is aware that several components of the system will need to change. Members of the committee have attended several leadership institutes that helped them realize the role of policies (formal and informal) and familiarized them with curriculum materials, staff development, and assessment examples that were aligned with the Standards.
In the example, the committee has divided into several subcommittees that have the tasks of working with different groups within and outside the district to coordinate resources and individual efforts to improve science education in the district. One subcommittee contacted the university concerning the alignment of courses with standards. Many district personnel received their initial undergraduate preservice preparation at the university and take courses there for continuing education units, and, in some cases, for advanced degrees. A second subcommittee talked with the new district superintendent. A third subcommittee periodically was assigned the task of determining teachers' needs for professional development and met with three separate teachers' groups representing elementary, middle, and high schools.
[This example illustrates System Standards A, B, C, D, F, and G; Professional Development Standards A and B; and Program Standards A, D, and F.]