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IES Grant

Title: Utah's Improving Science Teacher Quality Initiative
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Johnson, Carla Awardee: University of Cincinnati
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $913,620
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305M060006

Previous Grant Number: R305M050005
Previous Institution: University of Toledo

Co-Principal Investigator: Jamison Fargo, Utah State University

Many middle school students are currently not meeting state minimum standards in science. The purpose of this project is to design and test the potential efficacy of a professional development program for middle school science teachers with an emphasis on improving the science achievement of Latino students.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to design and test the potential efficacy of a professional development program for middle school science teachers with an emphasis on improving the science achievement of Latino students.

Setting: Participants in this study will be science teachers from all four middle schools in the Ogden City School District, Utah. Students in this district are currently not meeting state minimum standards in science.

Population(s): The overall population at the four middle schools is 39% Latino, with one school that has nearly a 70% Latino population. The proportion of middle school students in the district who receive free or reduced-fee lunch ranges from 56% to 69%. The student mobility rate at these schools ranges from 26% to 36% per year. The student population is linguistically diverse and the majority is of low socio-economic status.

Intervention/Assessment: A modified version of the Ohio-based Model Schools Initiative, a program that was developed and tested in suburban schools with average to above average achievement, will be implemented. The modified program will be targeted for teachers of low achieving Latino students in Utah. Participants will attend a ten-day summer institute, along with monthly meeting days. Teachers will be immersed in standards-based science instruction through a sustained experience, allowing them to develop skills of teaching inquiry-based, student-centered, real-world science. Teachers will also increase their knowledge of Latino culture and language as they gain basic communication-level Spanish through the summer experiences and the on-going instruction and support from university faculty.

Research Design and Methods: The four Ogden middle schools will form two groups by matching on percent of students proficient in science at the end of the 2003-2004 school year and percent Latino enrollment. Two schools will be randomly assigned to the Professional Development Intervention Group; two schools will be assigned to the control group. One group will consist of 9 teachers and approximately 1,646 students (44% Latino), and the other group will consist of 8 teachers and approximately 1,385 students (33% Latino).

Control or Comparison Condition: Teachers in the control schools will not receive any professional development in teaching science beyond that typically provided by the district.

Key Measures: To assess the quality of science teaching, two raters, blinded to teacher group assignment, will conduct monthly ratings of science teaching quality using the Local Systemic Change Classroom Observation Protocol (LSCOOP). Teacher perceptions of the quality of standards-based science instructional practices in their classrooms, and teacher demographic information will be collected with the Model School Teacher Questionnaire (MSTQ).

Science achievement scores will be obtained from all students in the four middle schools from the year previous to the study and the three years following the intervention using the Utah Criterion Reference Test. Student interest and perceptions of science will be collected with the Model School Student Questionnaire (MSSQ).

Data Analytic Strategy: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) will be used to analyze program outcomes. This development project is intended only to obtain evidence of the potential efficacy of the intervention; the study is under-powered for analysis at the unit of random assignment (school) and will be analyzed at the level of the student.

Project Website: http://

Project Website:


Book chapter

Johnson, C.C. (2010). Transformative Professional Development for In-Service Teachers: Enabling Change in Science Teaching to Better Meet the Needs of Hispanic ELL Students. In D.W. Sunal, D.S. Sunal, M. Mantero, and E. Wright (Eds.), Teaching Science with Hispanic ELLs in K–16 Classrooms (pp. 233–252). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Jennings-Bolshakova, V.L., Johnson, C.C., and Czerniak, C.M. (2011). It Depends on What Science Teacher You Got: Urban Science Self-Efficacy From Teacher and Student Voices. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6(4): 961–997.

Johnson, C.C. (2011). The Road to Culturally Relevant Science: Exploring How Teachers Navigate Change in Pedagogy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2): 170–198.

Johnson, C.C., Bolshakova, V.L., and Waldron, T. (2016). When Good Intentions and Reality Meet: Large-Scale Reform of Science Teaching in Urban Schools with Predominantly Latino ELL Students. Urban Education, 51(5), 476–513.

Johnson, C.C., and Fargo, J.D. (2010). Urban School Reform Enabled by Transformative Professional Development: Impact on Teacher Change and Student Learning of Science. Urban Education, 45(1): 4–29.

Johnson, C.C., and Marx, S. (2009). Transformative Professional Development: A Model for Urban Science Education Reform. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 20(2): 113–134.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2005.