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Three Diversity Champions Honored
as BEST Releases Pre-K-12 and Workforce Reports
What does it take to keep women, minorities and persons with disabilities on track for careers in science and engineering?
Among the hallmarks of effective programs to make science education more inclusive is the presence of "engaged adults," according to a new report from a panel of BEST (Building Engineering & Science Talent), chaired by Shirley Malcom, director of education and human resources at AAAS.
Three such champions of diversity--U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) and Ambassador Connie Morella-- were honored 29 April at a celebratory luncheon on Capital Hill in Washington, DC.
"My passion for young people will never cease," Johnson told guests at the event, where BEST and AAAS released two new reports on improving diversity in pre-K-12 classrooms and in the workforce, respectively. "With good guidance and good resources, students will achieve."
Two reports were released 29 April by BEST. The first report, What it Takes: Pre-K-12 Design Principles to Broaden Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, identifies five key "design principles" or overarching strategies common to effective efforts to make pre-kindergarten through grade 12 math and science education more inclusive. The second report, The Talent Imperative: Diversifying America's Science and Engineering Workforce, describes four "exemplary principles and practices" within science and technology-based organizations.
What it Takes showcases nine programs with significant evidence of effectiveness and 11 that warrant further research, based on an in-depth evaluation of research evidence programs by the BEST Blue Ribbon Panel on Pre-K-12 Education and the American Institutes of Research (AIR).
The BEST assessment on pre-K-12 science education is among the first to require independent evaluation to prove effectiveness. The panel, chaired by Malcom, screened 200 programs and selected 34 for detailed examination. Other panel leaders included Carlos Rodriquez, principal research scientist with the AIR, and Linda Rosen, president of Education and Management Innovations, Inc.
The results are as significant for what was not found as they are for what was ultimately discovered, BEST officials said, because not a single program earned the highest possible rating of verified, as defined by five studies of acceptable rigor, proving that such evidence is hard to find. Most programs concentrate their limited resources on providing services and recruiting participants rather than on rigorous and costly impact studies, according to the report. The panel developed a protocol that defined a rigorous study as one that provides meaningful research evidence comparing the outcomes of students who experience a given intervention and those who do not. Other category ratings included: probable, notable and meriting further research.
The following programs were given the highest BEST assessment rating of probable:
--Direct Instruction in Mathematics, an instructional approach developed in the late 1960s at the University of Illinois; and
--Project SEED (Special Elementary Education for the Disadvantaged), a supplementary mathematics program also launched in the 1960s in Berkeley, California.
The BEST panel also identified a framework of design principles that overlapped among effective programs. Specifically, effective programs shared the following principles:
- Defined outcomes, which drive the intervention and are successfully accomplished for the entire target population. When outcomes are defined, students and educational staff agree on goals and desired outcomes. Success is measured against intended results. Outcome data provide both quantitative and qualitative information. Disaggregated outcomes provide a basis for research and continuous improvement.
- Sustained commitment, which enables effective interventions to take hold, and to produce results and adapt to changing circumstances. Components of this principle are proactive leadership, sufficient resources and steadfastness in the face of setbacks. The minimum conditions for assuring sustained commitment are continuity of funding and of support at the individual school and school district levels.
- Personalization, which was described as acknowledging that the goal of intervention is the development of students as individuals. Student-centered teaching and learning methods are core approaches of personalized programs. Mentoring, tutoring and peer interaction are integral parts of the learning environment. Individual differences, uniqueness and diversity are recognized and honored.
- Challenging content was identified by BEST as the fourth design principle, which provides the foundation of knowledge and skills that students master. Curriculum is clearly defined and understood in programs with challenging content. Content is related to real-world applications, goes beyond minimum competencies, and reflects local, state and national standards. Students understand the link between the rigor of the content they study and the career opportunities that await them later in life. Appropriate academic remediation is readily available.
- Engaged adults who believe in the potential of all students, provide support, stimulate interest and create expectations that are fundamental to the intervention was identified by BEST as the fifth key ingredient of effective programs. Educators play multiple roles as teachers, coaches, mentors, tutors and counselors, BEST noted. Teachers develop and maintain quality interactions with students and each other. Active family support is sought and established.
These design principles provide tools that will enable communities across the country to assess and strengthen pre-K-12 math and science programs, BEST reported. The group's next phase will focus on creating a test-bed of communities that are committed to implementing the design principles.
BEST is an initiative of the Council on Competitiveness, established as an independent non-profit organization at the recommendation of the U.S. Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
29 April 2004
Copyright © 2013. American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
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