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Enhancing Science Education in Northeastern Kentucky

Overview:

The Enhancing Science Education in Northeastern Kentucky is an MSP-Start Partnership effort of the Rowan County School District and Morehead State University (MSU), as the lead institution. As this Partnership evolves, it will explore the potential of adding more school district and community and technical colleges Partners: the county school districts of Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliot, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Wolfe; and Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) campuses:Ashland, Big Sandy, and Maysville.

This MSP-Start will develop a Partnership to enhance the educational capabilities of potentially twelve county school districts within an hours drive of MSU. The focus is on science education in grades 5-8. In these counties, this represents approximately 250 teachers that could interface with the project. The overall goal of this planning process is to design a project specific to the regional culture and resource base that results in a better teacher preparation program, enhanced competence in the science content knowledge and pedagogical skill of veteran teachers, and ultimately, middle grade students who are better prepared in science. In order to attain this goal, this Start-Partnership will:

- Establish a "Working Partnership" that has the capacity to develop and implement an MSP project

- Develop a needs assessment strategy that clearly identifies program and professional development needs of all partners and provides the necessary guidance for developing improvement strategies

- Formulate a management structure that represents all partners and promotes the partnership and facilitates the development of an MSP proposal in an efficient and timely fashion

- Identify improvement targets that are significant, realistic and accomplishable

- Develop activities for an MSP proposal that have the potential to produce significant improvement in student learning outcomes in science

- Devise a research component for an MSP proposal that is likely to produce findings and results that will enlighten the science education community

- Develop a competitive MSP proposal that employs a process which results in the foundation for on-going higher education-school district collaborations

At the beginning of the project, needs assessment will be conducted via interviews with school district constituents, as well as via a symposium on "Challenges in Rural Education." Baseline data to be obtained, as well the type of assessments to be administered, will be identified in Partnership collaboration with an external evaluator. A core activity of the Start-Partnership will be the identification of appropriate science modules, which integrate science and pedagogy, to be adapted or developed. It is anticipated that the proper delivery of these modules will be taught at summer teaching institutes, by hybrid online courses, and by teacher-leaders developed in the school districts. During the term of this project, the middle school teacher preparation curriculum at MSU will be evaluated with the intention of designing new courses that combine science and pedagogy. To insure uniformity in curricula that is generated for teacher education, liaisons will be formed with the campuses of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which supply the majority of education students that transfer to MSU. In an effort to increase the number of teachers in the middle school pipeline, strategies for recruitment of students into the middle school certification program will be devised. Finally, a system of positive reinforcements for teacher participation will be developed in collaboration with district administrators.