The study was conducted in 66 elementary schools (60 in the impact study) in California and Wisconsin and included two small suburban school districts and five urban school districts. Eligible schools were required to belong to school districts that served low-income students.
Participating districts included: 10-30% English learner (EL) students, 10-20% students with individualized education plans, 2-45% Black students, 2-66% Hispanic students, 7-34% families with an income below the poverty level, and $40,000-$70,000 annual median household income. Additional details on sample characteristics were not provided.
Making Sense of SCIENCE is a professional learning model aimed at raising student achievement through improving instruction. The key components of the model include building leadership capacity—for regional site coordinators, school administrators, and local Leadership Cadre teams composed of teachers, district leaders, and partners from informal science and higher education—and providing teacher professional learning. The Making Sense of SCIENCE theory of action is based on the premise that professional learning that is situated in an environment of collaborative inquiry and supported by school and district leadership produces a cascade of effects on teachers’ content and pedagogical content knowledge, teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, the broader school climate, and students’ opportunities to learn. These effects, in turn, yield improvements in student science achievement, student English language arts achievement, and other non-academic outcomes such as enjoyment of science, self-efficacy and agency in science learning, and aspirations for future use of science in adulthood and careers.
Schools in the comparison condition conducted business-as-usual and did not receive the intervention. Comparison students were likely exposed to instruction and support services as they had been in the past.
Support for implementation
No implementation support was described separate from the intervention components, which included professional learning for site coordinators, teacher leaders, district staff, administrators, and regional partners. This included professional learning communities, support materials, workshops to support the implementation of Making Sense of SCIENCE, and a teacher course facilitation academy.