The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement
The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) is a statewide partnership among 60+ Virginia school districts, six Virginia universities, and the Virginia Department of Education intended to enhance science education throughout the Commonwealth.
The goal of VISTA is to translate research-based best teaching practices into improved science teaching and student learning for all students at all levels. For elementary teachers, VISTA provides professional development and coaching to support inclusion of inquiry-based and explicit nature of science instruction in the context of problem-based learning. For early career middle and high school teachers, VISTA professional development and coaching emphasizes how to effectively teach inquiry-based science with and without technology, how to use student performance to drive future instruction, and how to adapt instruction for diverse learners. The initiative is also working to build a community of practice across the Commonwealth by including principals and science coordinators in the K-12 teacher professional development. The VISTA program also includes two other professional development academies targeted toward science coordinators and science educators, respectively.
Curry School Professor Timothy Konold, Research, Statistics, and Evaluation; and Curry Research Associate Jennifer Maeng, Science Education will use $3.6 million of the funding to evaluate and conduct research on the outcomes of the VISTA program in collaboration with Randy Bell at Oregon State University. They are investigating how teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices change as a result of participation in VISTA, how the instructional practices of VISTA teachers impact student achievement, and what elements of VISTA best support teachers as they help students learn science.
VISTA is funded by a five-year, $34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Investing in Innovation (i3) program.
Funding source: Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, U.S. Department of Education
Lead School: George Mason University
Additional Partners: College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and James Madison University.
Project Dates: 2009-2015
Randy Bell, Co-PI