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Supporting science education in local middle schools

A $1 million grant will aid the work of Loyola’s Center for Science and Math Education in Chicago Public Schools

A new partnership between Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Science and Math Education (CSME), Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the Center for Curriculum Analysis in Madison, Wisconsin, will support professional development for more than 600 middle-grades science teachers from more than 300 Chicago Public Schools.

Led by Loyola, the collaboration will provide a variety of professional learning experiences for CPS middle grades science teachers to implement science curriculum which aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards as part of CPS’ Curriculum Equity Initiative.

This training will build upon the work occurring in CPS science classrooms over the last few years while helping educators blend hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and debate like professional scientists and engineers. The project is supported by a $1 million Professional Learning Partnership grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Our years of work with the diverse student population in CPS prepare us well to address achievement gaps in student science performance,” says Rachel Shefner, PhD, associate director of the center and director of accreditation and academic regulatory compliance at Loyola. “Through the Loyola-Gates Professional Learning Partnership, CSME will design professional learning for these teachers and develop a cadre of teacher-leaders who will sustain the professional learning work after the project ends and provide support for school administrators.”

This unique partnership will provide educators high-quality professional learning opportunities to nurture the curiosity of the next generation of young scientists and scholars,” says CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade. “CPS is grateful for Loyola’s enduring partnership and thrilled to expand learning opportunities to help implement the Curriculum Equity Initiative.”  

The Center for Curriculum Analysis will provide customized tools for teachers to reflect on their own science instruction as well as for measuring the impact of the program on teachers and their students. Shefner and her team are also planning to develop models so the professional learning program can be applied to other districts with similar needs.