To be prepared for the 21st century, it is critical that all students have sufficient knowledge of and skills in science. Studies suggest that high-quality teaching can make a significant difference in student learning. NSTA believes a high-quality science teacher workforce requires meaningful, ongoing professional development. To achieve this goal, schools and school systems must devote time and resources to effective professional development for all K–16 teachers of science and science educators to support learning throughout their careers.
There is broad agreement in the field, and increasingly empirical evidence as well, about what constitutes quality professional development for science educators. Key principles, synthesized by the National Institute for Science Education, include reflecting the research on effective classroom learning and teaching; building content and pedagogical content knowledge and skills and examining practice; using research-based methods that mirror those needed in the classroom; facilitating the development of professional learning communities; supporting teacher leadership; integrating professional development with local and state priorities and systems; and continuously evaluating effectiveness.
NSTA strongly believes that we must move forward with professional development programs based on the best information currently available. The science education community should continue to encourage and conduct systematic research about effective professional development to add to our knowledge base for particular purposes in various contexts.
To achieve the goal of providing professional development for science educators throughout their careers, professional development programs should incorporate the following guiding principles (Loucks-Horsley, Love, Stiles, Mundry, and Hewson 2003; Elmore 2002; Darling-Hammond and Sykes 1999):
—Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors, May 2006
Elmore, R. 2002. Bridging the gap between standards and achievement: The imperative for professional development in education. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute.
Loucks-Horsley, S., K. E. Stiles, and P. Hewson. 1996. Principles of effective professional development for mathematics and science education: A synthesis of standards: NISE brief. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin at Madison, National Institute for Science Education.
Loucks-Horsley, S., N. Love, K. E. Stiles, S. Mundry, and P. W. Hewson. 2003. Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
Thompson, Charles L., and John S. Zeuli. 1999. The frame and tapestry: Standards-based reform and professional development. In Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice, eds. L. Darling-Hammond and G. Sykes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Banilower, E. R., S. E. Boyd, J. D. Pasley, & I. R. Weiss. 2006. Lessons from a decade of mathematics and science reform: A capstone report for the local systemic change through teacher enhancement initiative. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.
Guskey, T. R. 2000. Evaluating professional development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
National Research Council (NRC). 2000. How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning and Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice. J. D. Bransford, A. Brown, and R. R. Cocking, eds. Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council (NRC). 1996. National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Staff Development Council. 2001. National staff development council’s standards for staff development, revised: Advancing student learning through staff development. Oxford, OH: Author.
Rhoton, J., and P. Bowers. 2001. Issues in science education: Professional development planning and design. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Undersecretary, Planning and Evaluation Service, Elementary and Secondary Education Division. 2000. Does professional development change teaching practice? Results from a three-year study, executive summary. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Weiss, I. R., J. D. Pasley, P. S. Smith, E. R. Banilower, & D. J. Heck. 2003. Looking inside the classroom: A study of K–12 mathematics and science education in the United States. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.