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Assessment, General, Professional Development & Materials, Workforce Development - Friday, April 29, 2016

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

In 2010, a small team of ASSET STEM Education™ teachers and support staff committed to improve teaching and learning in 24 rural and high needs schools scattered across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Selected from more than 1,700 applicants, our Pittsburgh-based nonprofit was one of 49 recipients of the inaugural U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant.

I am pleased to share the ground-breaking results of this initiative. 

Our charge was to validate advanced professional development—supported by strategically located professional development centers, school-based professional learning communities and instructional coaches—as a strategy to improve teacher effectiveness and increase student achievement.

As the nation celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to recognize the 565 dedicated teachers and administrators who engaged in this rigorous work over the five-year program. They are the champions of change within their schools!

Together, they impacted 38,142 students. Picture a standing-room crowd at Fenway Park in Boston or a full house at PNC Park—that’s how many K-6 students advanced in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

As for the results, the independent evaluation showed teachers:

  • increased their understanding of inquiry-based science
  • improved pedagogical practices
  • increased STEM content knowledge
  • strengthened collaboration

After three years of program implementation, students in the treatment group outperformed the control group on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment of the treatment group in:

  • 4th-grade science
  • 3rd- and 4th-grade math

We were proud to achieve both statistically significant and educationally meaningful results, which is rare in systemic education improvement. In layman’s terms, 66% of students in our fourth-grade science treatment group scored above the control group mean. Get a detailed look at the evaluation results.

Last but certainly not least, I want to thank our generous supporters who contributed toward the required 20 percent private-sector match, equating to $5.7 million in donations and in-kind products and services. See the full list of supporters.

We couldn’t have accomplished these tremendous results without all of you!