What does it take to improve science performance in an inner-city high school? Could a science "immersion" strategy change motivation and interest in science? How can we meet a key strategic goal of our urban district: "All students graduate and are prepared for postsecondary education, successful careers and productive citizenship."
Creative professionals in team-based work settings value work communications skills among their colleagues. As public schools create professional learning communities and experiment with teacher-led curriculum and program development, traditional interview processes may prove inadequate for these new collaborative environments. New and creative selection models may be needed to enable teacher or other professional teams to choose candidates with the 21st century skills needed for success. In public sector environments, work rules are often highly developed and professionals are entitled to interview. Qualifications, training, experience and seniority as determinants often get reduced to transfer rights using seniority as the main or only criteria. This trend detracts from creating a competitive environment in which to attract & retain a high-quality teaching staff. Solutions can be found within existing contract parameters, however, if the attributes necessary to teach 21st Century skills are actually required to be demonstrated, not just described, in the interview process.
"All children can learn," is a catchphrase currently making the rounds in education circles, particularly in staff development activities (Pankratz & Petroski, 2003). De facto learning theory challenges the underlying assumptions of this phrase by examining how it is that learning in schools takes place. Using theoretical foundations of Dewey, Maslow, and Vygotsky, this essay will explore the fact that all children are, in fact, learning all the time, regardless of the actions of teachers, the content of the curriculum, or educational policy and practice.
Critical to a dynamic STEM school is a high level of instructional rigor. While this is true in all STEM schools, it is a particular challenge in those programs that serve populations inexperienced with high levels of rigor in their previous coursework.
Establishing a STEM High School (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics), and the Aiken Environmental, Ohio's first public environmental high school proved to be successful strategies to increase student engagement and raise standardized scores in science. High-poverty urban students from declining academic and disciplinary environments produced significant gains on science test results and credit attainment towards graduation. Using multiple overlapping rigor and SEL strategies, students experienced "science immersion," project-based learning, and a social-emotional curriculum that emphasized personal development and team/community-building skills.