Project 2061 is a long-term science, mathematics, and technology education reform initiative that benefits K12 students nationwide. The project evaluates curriculum materials, produces print and electronic reform tools for educators, and offers professional development workshops for teachers.
In 2000, Project 2061 released the latest findings from its series of evaluations of science and mathematics textbooks that are in wide use in K12 schools. Focusing on high school biology and algebra textbooks, independent teams of teachers, scientists, mathematicians, and education researchers concluded that most of the texts have serious weaknesses. Many school systems are relying on Project 2061s ratings in making their textbook selections.
The evaluation of biology textbooks showed that they fail to make important biology ideas comprehensible and meaningful to students, focusing instead on splashy graphics and vocabulary lists. The study pointed to serious shortcomings both in content coverage and instructional design. In the evaluation of 10 widely used biology textbooks, none was given high ratings. The evaluation examined how well the texts are likely to help students learn the important ideas and skills in Benchmarks for Science Literacy (developed by Project 2061), the National Science Education Standards, and state standards.
The majority of textbooks used for algebraconsidered the gateway to higher mathematicshave some potential to help students learn, but they also have serious weaknesses, according to the analysis by Project 2061. Seven of the 12 textbooks evaluated by Project 2061 were considered adequate; however, not one was rated highly. Five textbooks, including three that are widely used in American classrooms, were rated so inadequate that they lack potential for student learning. This evaluation was the first to use Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, the guidelines for what students should learn released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The standards are closely aligned with the learning goals of Project 2061s landmark Benchmarks for Science Literacy.
Project 2061 began its series of textbook evaluations with an analysis
of middle-grades mathematics texts, released in January 1999. Currently
used as a resource for textbook adoption committees around the country,
that evaluation rated several newer mathematics textbooks as excellent
teaching tools, but a number of widely used texts as unsatisfactory. In
September 1999, Project 2061 released the results of an in-depth study
of middle-grades science books that revealed shortcomings in all popular
textbooks and has opened up new dialogues with educators and textbook
Teacher Education Study
With funding form the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Project 2061 completed a study of the preparation and induction of new teachers into the field of K12 science education. The three-year project, conducted with universities and public schools in Colorado and Maryland, set out to educate university faculty, in-service mentor teachers, and pre-service teachers about teaching for science literacy. Project accomplishments included the development of new benchmarks-based university science and methods courses and improved methods for mentoring new teachers.
Programs Project 2061s Professional Development Programs help educators select their curriculum materials and improve their teaching skills based on national and state benchmarks and standards in science and mathematics education. These programs help educators bring standards and benchmarks into the classroom so that students can achieve science and mathematics literacy goals. The programs provide workshops, seminars, and consulting services to schools and organizations around the world.
In 2000, Project 2061 delivered 210 days of professional development for science and mathematics educators. It also launched open enrollment workshops along the East Coast, where participants could explore new ideas about teaching and learning, gain new information and skills, and reflect on their current professional practice. The three-day workshops were held in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Miami to help educators work with Project 2061 tools and procedures to clarify the intent of the national, state, and district standards they are responsible for implementing. The workshops employed some of Project 2061s newest tools, including Designs for Science Literacy and Atlas of Science Literacy.