Recently the Professional Services Division at the SSEC sat down for the second of our new Journal Club meetings. Building off of our last discussion of the SSEC’s “LASER” (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) model, we read Christopher L. Miller’s report “District Leadership for Science Education: Using K-12 Departments to Support Elementary Science Education under NCLB.” The report was published in Science Educator in 2010 and describes the findings from case studies of two school districts’ responses to the lack of emphasis on science that resulted from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.
The report concludes that integrated K-12 science departments can be an effective method for supporting elementary science education as an alternative to or in the absence of funding for science specialists. In the context of this case study, an integrated K-12 science department had many benefits, including the establishment of a network of shared responsibility and accountability as well as a professional learning community (PLC) to connect content experts at the secondary level with teachers lacking comfort in science.
Our group quickly picked up on the alignment of the LASER model with the system employed by the Millikan school district case study in Miller’s report. Both the LASER model and the integrated K-12 science department structure highlight the importance of a shared vision and team approach to developing leadership at all levels. Furthermore, the LASER model addresses other elements necessary to a successful, sustainable science program like community support, which a K-12 department structure could also leverage.