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K-12 Partners and Grade Band
The choice of school district partners was strategic. WWU, serving as a hub for Catalysts for Reform activities, is within 30 minutes drive of all partner districts, providing convenient access to university resources and fulfilling the effectiveness criteria of proximity (Williams, 2002). Each district is in the process of adopting science curriculum materials and establishing instructional methods for the next decade. The partner districts all share a commitment to transforming how science is taught in middle school (Wagner, 1998) and recognize the role of investigation-centered materials in ensuring all students have the opportunity to succeed in science (Berns, 2001; Bredderman, 1983; Shamansky, Hedges, & Woodworth 1990; Amaral, Garrison, & Klentschy 2002). The choice to concentrate the Catalyst for Reform project goals on grades 7 and 8 addresses immediate science reform needs at the middle school level. Catalysts for Reform will provide the essential forum for middle school teachers in the partner districts to succeed in their professional transformation and improve middle school student learning for years beyond the grant.
Bellingham School District
WWU has a long history of partnership with the Bellingham School District (BSD). Our teacher preparation programs place many practicum and internship students in their classrooms; BSD teachers serve on numerous advisory boards for WWU programs. BSD is in the first of a two-year curriculum review and adoption for middle and high school science and Dr. Linneman, project PI, serves on this committee at the invitation of the teachers and curriculum director. The adoption will be completed during the 2003-2004 school year. Professional development activities will commence in the summer of 2004 for implementation in the 2004-2005 school year.
Burlington-Edison School District
Burlington-Edison School District (BESD) is a small rural school district composed of five K-8 schools and one high school. BESD is in the process of implementing a five-year plan for science education reform after participating in a Washington State LASER Strategic Planning Institute. Currently, the 7th and 8th grade science curricula consists of inquiry-based life, earth, and physical science kits in addition to textbook-based instruction. As part of the five-year strategic plan, additional research-based science kits are being phased into the middle school science curriculum each year.
Lummi Tribal School
The Lummi Nation operates the Lummi Tribal School (LTS), grades K-12, and supports a 98% Native American student body. The LTS has partnered with the Washington Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program to provide enriching opportunities in mathematics, engineering, and science for underrepresented students, exemplary curriculum materials, and professional development for the elementary teachers. The LTS principal and middle school teachers are committed to adopting research-based science materials and instructional methods, building on the reform efforts underway in the elementary grades.
Mount Vernon School District
Mount Vernon School District (MVSD) is a small, rural school district supporting a diverse student population, with 41% Hispanic students. Guided by LASER, MVSD has adopted and implemented research-based science curricula at the elementary level. The PI is involved in the concomitant professional development activities with the elementary teachers. The middle school teachers are anxious to join this reform movement and have invited members of the SMATE faculty to work with them on their curriculum selection and implementation scheduled for the 2004-2005 school year.
Nooksack Valley School District
Nooksack Valley School District (NVSD) has also participated in a Strategic Planning Institute (SPI) provided by LASER and adopted a research-based elementary science curriculum. The existing middle school science curriculum is a mixture of textbook-based instruction with problem-based learning experiences supporting science investigations connected to the local context. The NVSD teachers are committed to deepening their understanding of science teaching and learning to build on their experience of fostering inquiry in their learners.
Ferndale School District
Ferndale School District (FSD) was a new addition to the GK-12 Partnership in the 2006-2007 academic year. Both Horizon Middle School and Vista Middle School have participating Partner Teachers. The district serves over 5000 students from a mainly rural area. Demographically, the Ferndale School District is about 75% white, 10% American Indian, 10% Hispanic and 5 % other minorities. The FSD also participates in the North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership project. Through this project, science teachers have participated in several science education reform initiatives that have brought a deeper understanding to the teaching and learning of science. Both Horizon and Vista Middle School are currently piloting research based kit curricula for possible implementation in the next couple of years. We are proud to have this local school district as a partner in our work to improve the science teaching and learning for all students.

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