RITES:Rhode Island Technology Enhanced Science Program
The University of Rhode Island (URI), Rhode Island College (RIC) and Johnston Public Schools are Core Partners working in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) in a comprehensive, statewide effort to improve the quality of science teaching and learning at all secondary schools. The Education Alliance at Brown University, which will evaluate the project, is a supporting partner together with the Community College of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Concord Consortium.
Rhode Island Technology Enhanced Science (RITES) is based upon structural reform initiated with the support of the Governor. An action plan developed by a PK-16 council resulted in an investment of $15 million to establish a permanent STEM Center that features two new tenure track positions and will provide support to all schools. The comprehensive statewide STEM education reform also has support from all levels of government and academia and RITES represents a valuable experiment in organization and structure within that effort.
The RITES project will, in five years of NSF funding, transform the quality of science teaching and learning at all secondary schools, with the goal of increasing the number and diversity of students who are proficient in science and pursue careers in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM). The heart of the project is the seamless integration of all segments of the Rhode Island educational community (i.e., teachers and school systems, higher education science departments and schools of education, the various state offices that monitor and support STEM education and the private sector).
RITES will impact all 686 middle school and high school teachers and all of their 83,339 students with excellent, challenging, computer-based, standards-aligned, science materials. Pairs of high schools and feeder middle schools will join the Partnership together by developing a unified, comprehensive, middle and high school science action plan that will integrate RITES resources, for professional development of teachers and materials for students, with school needs and ongoing school reform. Schools that participate in the project will be expected to have the active engagement of the school leadership and at least 75% of the science teachers. Teachers will attend short courses not only to deepen their content knowledge and pedagogy but also to learn how to customize the newly designed curricular materials for their own classrooms.
The comprehensive evaluation plan will include annual reviews of the New England Common Assessments Program (NECAP) science assessment,which will be administered for the first time in Spring 2008. Results will be disaggregated by race, gender and disabilities and income. Specific benchmarks for student achievement, teacher professional development and workforce diversity will be used to track progress.