Klein Independent School District recognizes the increasing demand for students to have learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Schools and other professionals must work together as a team in order to prepare students for these future opportunities.
In spring 2012, Alief ISD’s Superintendent H.D. Chambers along with Aldine ISD’s Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg heard about the JASON Project and the excitement it generated in science from fellow Houston area superintendent- Dr. Duncan Klussmann (Spring Branch ISD). H.D. Chambers, passionate about science education, invited a core group to learn more about The JASON Project. After an in-depth review of its content and unprecedented connections to scientists in the field, the core group comprising of Gina Tomas (Deputy Superintendent of Instruction), Dr. Karen Jacobs (Secondary Science Coordinator), Denia Puerto (Secondary Science Interventionist), and Gelyn Cornell (Elementary Science Coordinator), along with H.D., sought to officially bring The JASON Project to Alief ISD. Mr. Chambers, with the unique fortitude to see great opportunities for the students of Alief ISD, met with Dr. Eleanor Smalley, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The JASON Project, and Joni Baird, Chevron Public and Government Affairs Manager, and an initial donation in the amount of $235,182 was provided.
Southwest Schools is a small district of choice located in southwest Houston and is composed of a four year public high school, a middle school (grades 6 – 8), 2 elementary campuses, pre-kinder programs, and the Phoenix school (K-12) which provides educational services to several residential treatment programs. This TEA accredited district has a student population of approximately 2,000 students, of which 83% are Hispanic; 8% Black, non-Hispanic; 8% White, non-Hispanic; and 1% Asian/Pacific Islander or Two or More Races. Additionally, 87% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 50% are LEP (limited English proficient).
With continued support from Chevron grant funds, Cypress-Fairbanks progressed to the second year of its JASON Project during the 2014-15 school year. CFISD appreciates this substantial investment in learning (roughly half a million dollars thus far) and is grateful for the resources provided. The district added a newly constructed campus to its grand-scale implementation, which included the entire middle school level (now 18 campuses). Per login data, the initiative’s second year served 24,610 students in grades 6-7-8 (a near-match to enrollment) and 352 teachers. One objective measure of achievement was the STAAR science test at 8th grade, a state exam involving 8,139 students in CFISD. The district’s performance seemed to follow the statewide trend, with an overall 1% decline in the passing rate, along with a 3% drop in the percentage of students scoring at the Advanced level.
The Humble ISD partnership with JASON Learning and Chevron began with teacher training in the spring of 2013. Classroom implementation of the JASON Project began in the 2013-2014 school year. The initial grant allowed all eight Humble ISD Middle Schools, serving over 8,700 students in grades six, seven, and eight, to fully implement the JASON curriculum. The JASON Learning curriculum was embedded in the Humble ISD science curriculum with the goal of becoming a sustainable curriculum component of STEM instruction in the district.
The Spring Branch ISD JASON/Chevron STEM implementation program began with training in the spring of 2012, classroom implementation in the 2012-2013 school year, continuation and expansion in 2013-2014, and the development of a sustainability plan in the summer of 2014. Key components of the JASON Learning program included extensive teacher leader trainings and professional development of secondary science teachers, utilization of JASON Learning curriculum in middle and high school classrooms, live presentations from key JASON scientists with middle and high school classes, and student experiences with the JASON National Argonaut program. The JASON Learning curriculum was embedded in the Spring Branch science curriculum with the goal of becoming a sustainable curriculum component of multiple STEM instruction units in the district.
There has been an increasing demand for students to have learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The research shows that even students in lower elementary grades are able to comprehend some of the more basic concepts of STEM-‐ related content. As our society changes, so does the need to begin incorporating inquiry-‐based learning in our educational practices. Schools and other professionals must work as a team in order to prepare students for the future.
The study examines the perspectives of school district leadership, principals, science instructional specialists, science teachers, and students about factors associated with increasing student achievement in science by infusing science curricula in Grades 5-8 with STEM methodologies and connections to scientists in the field. The focus of the study was to determine which variables, in conjunction with district-designed structures, attributed to a significant gain in student achievement after one year of implementation.