Program Raised 8th Grade Science Achievment Scores In High-Poverty Seattle Schools by 44 Percent

(This video from helps to put into perspective the importance of science education for our students as well as our teachers.)

SEATTLE – In a five-year research project on professional development that included science teachers in 28 middle schools in the Puget Sound region, the Center for Inquiry Science (CIS) at Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) helped increase the percentage of students who met the grade 8 science standard on Washington´s statewide assessment by as high as 44 percent. The project, funded in 2005 by the National Science Foundation and completed in 2011, provided training for 8th grade science teachers using CIS's Observing for Evidence of Learning (OEL) professional development model. Highlights from the paper:

The Observing for Evidence of Learning model of professional development teaches science teachers how to:

  • Increase collaboration within their respective school´s science department.
  • Work closely with ISB and other regional scientists to better understand the key science concepts and most effective teaching strategies.
  • Better utilize curriculum materials to help all students learn science.

Achievement by the numbers from 2006-2011

  • Seattle OEL schools classified as "low-socioeconomic" had the highest increase at 44 percent.
  • Seattle OEL schools saw the highest gains in students' achievement in science, an overall increase of 35 percent.
  • Across the Puget Sound, OEL schools saw a 26 percent increase versus non-OEL schools, which saw a 17 percent increase. The difference is considered statistically significant and suggests that that OEL schools are at a faster pace for achieving the science standard for all students.

Funding and efficacy:

  • CIS received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (2005 – 2011) to develop and research the OEL project.
  • The results of the study reflect data collected from when the training was implemented in schools in 2006 until 2011.
  • CIS ran the OEL training from 2006 through 2010. In 2011, even without CIS support and project funding, OEL schools continued to see gains in achievement scores. Seattle OEL schools saw an 11 percent increase from 2010 to 2011. Other OEL schools and comparison schools were even at about 8 percent.
  • Several additional Puget Sound region districts have requested support from CIS to implement OEL.

Boeing grant:

  • The success of OEL for science teachers has prompted The Boeing Company to grant CIS $250,000 to adapt the program for math. (Funding was awarded on Nov. 2, 2011.)

About the Institute for Systems Biology
The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is an internationally renowned, non-profit research institute headquartered in Seattle and dedicated to the study and application of systems biology. Founded by Leroy Hood, Alan Aderem and Ruedi Aebersold, ISB seeks to unravel the mysteries of human biology and identify strategies for predicting and preventing diseases such as cancer, diabetes and AIDS. ISB's systems approach integrates biology, computation and technological development, enabling scientists to analyze all elements in a biological system rather than one gene or protein at a time. Founded in 2000, the Institute has grown to 13 faculty and more than 300 staff members; an annual budget of more than $50 million; and an extensive network of academic and industrial partners. For more information about ISB, visit