2014 Listen Learn

Accelerate Learning Inc: STEMscopes

2014 Winner for Listen & Learn Award
About Listen & Learn Award

Responds quickly to reported problems, employs a successful feedback mechanism for users and incorporates pilots and user feedback in product or initiative development.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

Accelerate Learning Inc employs four key practices designed to help solicit and integrate teacher and administrator feedback. The first and most core practice is that we work with science teachers, specialists, and curriculum coaches to write all of the lessons in all of our curricula.

Our second practice is to get curriculum into the hands of current teachers and gather their feedback. For example, we piloted our K-12 NGSS units in each of the NGSS adopting states. We also are working closely with PreK teachers in Waco ISD this year to pilot our PreK professional development and Early Explorer curriculum. This pilot includes 51 teachers, whom we are interviewing and observing to gather data for the development team; in fact, lessons we’ve learned in the pilot already have been incorporated into the curriculum and training sessions.

Our third practice is to make it easy for users to provide feedback on an ongoing basis through an embedded feedback button. We receive an average 250 per week, respond within 24 hours, and log all of the feedback. Teachers also can talk to a real person, right away, and an average of 400 do call us every week. Users often hang up the phone with a solution to their problem, or receive a solution or answer within 24 hours.

Our fourth practice includes working with researchers at Rice University to understand how teachers use and want to use our resources. For example, the Rice University research team won a National Science Foundation grant this past summer to gather teacher feedback that will help us improve the teacher dashboard. Participating teachers are the linchpin to the entire effort—providing initial feedback, and then testing the feasibility and usability of any changes made to the teacher dashboard.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

There are two key ways to measure the impact of the work we do listening to and learning from our teachers and administrators. One measure is the incredible growth we’ve had: in four years, STEMscopes went from a resource used primarily by elementary school science teachers in the Houston, Texas area, to a comprehensive PreK-12 science curriculum utilized by over 60,000 teachers and 1.5 million students all over the country. This growth only was possible because we worked with teachers to build a digital tool that meets their daily planning, instructional, and assessment needs.

Another and more important measure is that students whose teachers use the STEMscopes curriculum to teach science perform better on state science assessments than their comparable peers in classrooms that use other resources. Working with Rice University researchers, we’ve learned, for example, that across 634 public school districts in Texas, 5th graders in districts that had adopted STEMscopes outperformed their peers in districts without STEMscopes with passing rates that were, on average, 3.8 points higher. What’s more, across these 634 districts, STEMscopes particularly helped low income students, African American students, Latino students, and English language learners achieve higher district-level pass rates when compared to districts using other resources to teach science. More recently, the Rice University research team produced similar findings for 8th grade science students across more than 1,000 school districts in Texas during the 2013-2014 school year. Finally, the researchers also have uncovered positive findings at the student level, controlling for demographic differences in quasi-experimental settings.

We’re very happy that each year, more and more teachers look to us to help them plan and teach science, but we’re really excited that their hard work and our support is resulting in more science learning.