This information is part of hte support for a S4U grant request solicited by the Dept of Education
All states are required to include a science assessment in each of the three-year elementary grade bands (NCLB, 2001). Current amendments to the ESEA heighten the demand for increasing science achievement and preparedness by focusing attention on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education. The focus on science is further reinforced by allowing states to include science achievement as part of their accountability systems and proposing modifications to state assessments to “measure students’ complex problem-solving and analytical skills” (PCAST, 2010). Within this framework of heightened focus on science education, S4U provides not only a standards-based curriculum and research-based best-practices model, but also embedded online teacher science content and instructional model (5E) training and offline teacher/parent support. By catering to STEM objectives and 21st century learners’ needs, S4U enables both teachers and students to reach the goals set forth by these federally mandated initiatives.
S4U specifically addresses the need for an innovative, flexible, and cost-effective science curriculum driven by both the inclusion of science on high stakes assessments and the movement toward computer-based testing. Many online, virtual models are used across the nation, with assessments embedded in online curricula. Nationally, more than half of the U.S. (27 states) have piloted online tests for statewide or end-of-course exams (Quellmalz & Pellegrino, 2009). Similarly, portions of the NAEP assessment are computer-based (Sandene et at., 2005). The movement to computer-based assessments in K-12 education is here and early exposure to online evaluations as casual, non threatening interactions seems essential.
The digital curriculum and assessment models offer another discrete advantage to educators. As standards change, online models, such as S4U are able to evolve and adapt in real-time, incorporating new standards much more quickly than traditional text approaches. In the near future, science classrooms may be held accountable for the Next Generation National Science Standards based on the NRC Conceptual Framework for the New Science Education Standards (2011). New print texts designed to align with fluctuating state and national standards will have more trouble keeping pace with the need for current curricula. Electronically deliverable student content and professional development components offer a solution to the problem of providing an efficient, cost-effective implementation of new standards, within a real-time transition. Science4Us is poised to offer these solutions to schools.