Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics (Phase I and Phase II)
PRISM was funded in 2003 as a five-year MSP grant. The project is now in its second phase, which will run for five years, ending in 2013. An overview of each phase of the project is below.
PRISM (Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics) is an initiative of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in partnership with the Georgia Department of Education, four core public universities (two research institutions, one regional, and one state university) and additional supporting higher education partners, and thirteen school districts involving cities (Atlanta and Savannah), small urban regions and rural areas. The PRISM partner school districts enroll 170,000 plus students and employ over 10,000 elementary through high school teachers of science and mathematics. Within the school districts, 39% of the students are African American, 54% are White, 1% are Asian American, 5% are Hispanic, and 1% are Multiracial.
PRISM activities are built on a foundation of past work in the state that emphasizes a preK-16 approach to education. PRISM seeks to increase science and mathematics achievement by providing challenging science and mathematics curricula for all students; raising public awareness of the need for all students to complete the challenging curricula; increasing and sustaining the number, quality and diversity of P-12 teachers of science and mathematics; and increasing the responsiveness of higher education to the needs of schools. PRISM also features scholarship, which is woven into implementation as partners chronicle what works, for whom, under what conditions, and why it works. Lessons learned in particular contexts will be brought to the level of generalizability and replicated. Ultimately the evidence garnered from joint research/practioner implementation strategies will be used to impact policies to support proven practices.
PRISM strategies are design to give pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and higher education faculty the tools, knowledge, skills and policy support they need to facilitate change at the school, district, regional, and state level to improve student achievement in science and mathematics. Through P-16 learning communities, school and university faculty will serve as critical friends supporting and challenging each other to seek to understand, to chronicle, and to bridge three largely discrete realms -- knowledge building (the purview of science and mathematics researchers), teacher professional knowledge (taught in colleges of education), and teacher craft knowledge (as used in school classrooms). Through collaboration, faculty will develop professional knowledge that is scientifically-based, that is taught to prospective teachers, and that informs practice in school classrooms.
By including key state entities, PRISM also influences the statewide policy environment in order to reinforce local changes aimed at ensuring implementation of higher standards. While focused on the regional partnerships, it is hoped that innovations deriving from PRISM will impact the entire Georgia P-16 Network (15 regional school/ university partnerships) and, through the MSP Learning Network, the Nation.
PRISM Phase II is conducting research on strategies that lead to changes in the culture of science and mathematics education where dimensions of culture include policies, practices, partnerships, and resources. Research studies in PRISM Phase II are producing further evidence of how and to what extent distinctive PRISM Phase I strategies - K-16 Professional Learning Communities, Culture of Higher Education and a Public Awareness Campaign - give rise to these four key elements of holistic cultural change.
The Phase II PRISM partnership is producing these outcomes through an integrated set of research studies focused on the following questions:
1) In what ways and to what extent do K-16 professional learning communities lead to partnerships which change professional practice of K-16 educators and improve student learning in K-16 science and mathematics?
2) To what extent do policy change and incentive structures that reward higher education faculty to collaborate with K-12 schools and to strengthen their own teaching result in sustainable changes in departmental and institutional culture, including changed policies, changed practices, new partnerships and dedicated resources, in higher education?
3) To what extent do schools that participate in the Public Awareness Campaign have greater student motivation, greater parental involvement and higher student achievement in science and mathematics than non-participating schools?
PRISM Phase II expects to culminate in replicable models for implementing the three strategies in ways which elicit changes in culture and ultimately strengthen K-16 science and mathematics education. Based upon the successes of PRISM Phase I, the University System of Georgia (USG) has launched a STEM Initiative, in FY 2009, designed to replicate the successes of PRISM throughout all 35 USG institutions. Through STEM Initiative funding, 12 institutions will implement K-16 professional learning communities and faculty incentive programs for participation in the scholarship of teaching and learning with faculty from all USG institutions invited to participate in STEM-focused Faculty Institutes on the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics. The implementation of STEM Initiative-supported learning communities provide a broad base of activity to support experimental studies, as well as avenues by which the results of the Phase II work also immediately inform the work of the STEM Initiative team. This provides a direct avenue of dissemination of Phase II results to all public institutions of higher education in Georgia. Phase II research findings are also being disseminated through presentations at national and regional conferences and through scholarly journals and proceedings.
Note: Prism Phase II has its own project space on MSPnet, which can be found here: http://prism2.mspnet.org"