Three Sciences- Two Years- One Solution- Using the Earth System Science Education Alliance On-Line Course to Build K-12 Teacher Earth System Science Content and Pedagogical Knowledge

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Conference Proceeding

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Starting in 2007 Ohio high school students will need to pass a new Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) taken in the second semester of their sophomore year as a graduation requirement. This high-stakes test was mandated by the Ohio legislature and developed by the Ohio Department of Education to reflect the more rigorous Ohio K-12 Academic Content Standards, including science. The science section of the OGT includes the content areas of Physical science, Life science and Earth/Space science. The Earth/Space science standards use the Earth system as a content organizer and many questions on the Ohio Graduation Test have an Earth system science focus. Ohio law mandates that Physical Science be taught as the 9th grade science course in all Ohio public high schools and that Life science be taught as the 10th grade science offering. This legislation created a profound disconnect between Earth/Space science content and the timing of the Ohio Graduation Test. Although approximately one-third of the OGT science section questions test Earth/Space science content, it is impossible to teach a high school level Earth/Space science course prior to students taking the Ohio Graduation Test. School systems in Ohio have responded to this crisis by either adding the 9th and 10th grade Earth/Space science benchmarks to the Physical Science and Life Science course curricula, or by teaching the 9th and 10th grade Earth/Space science benchmarks at the 7th or 8th grade in an Earth/Space science course that because it contains so much material, must be "a mile wide and an inch deep". In either case, a significant number of the teachers charged with building the Earth/Space science content knowledge for the Ohio Graduation Test do not have a strong Earth/Space science component in their own educational background, although they may have a strong background in the physical or life sciences. Wright State University has a long record of providing Earth/Space science professional development for K-12 teachers. Offering the Earth System Science Education Alliance Earth systems on-line course as professional development is ideal for this purpose because the course can be tailored for classroom teacher professional development. Course content can be chosen by faculty from an array of real-world situations and events that focus on the state and national science education benchmarks most useful for the K-12 teachers preparing their students for the Ohio Graduation Test. Course pedagogy can also be chosen to allow maximum flexibility in professional development. Teachers of grades 5-8 and grades 9-12 teachers can both engage the same content, but with different pedagogies. This strategy has been shown to lead to a greater likelihood of K-12 teachers incorporating the content and pedagogical strategies into their own classrooms.


Presented at the 2007 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), San Francisco, CA.

Abstract Number ED44A-02.

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