Hamilton County Schools selected to improve state science instruction as part of Tennessee District Science Network
Posted on 12/26/2019
Students in VWeLabHamilton County Schools is one of six districts in the state selected to participate in the Tennessee District Science Network (TDSciN). The network, which launched in April 2019, is a collection of six Tennessee school districts helping to improve science teaching and learning of the new Tennessee Academic Standards for Science. The five districts selected along with Hamilton County Schools include Anderson County Schools, Kingsport City Schools, Knox County Schools, Oak Ridge Schools, and Rutherford County Schools. According to a release from TDSciN, the districts selected represent a variety of district sizes and perspectives and have made science standards implementation a priority. Achieve, a nonprofit education organization supporting states and districts to develop solutions to policy and implementation challenges, launched TDSciN.

“The expertise of our district leaders supports collective strategic planning across the network,” said Jenny Sarna, Director of District Support at Achieve. “We are excited to convene talented educators from across the state of Tennessee to engage in this work, which we know will have a critical impact on successful three-dimensional science learning for students.”

The TDSciN formed in response to the 2016 adoption of new science standards in the state of Tennessee, which represented a significant shift in science instruction. The network uses science assessment tasks to improve assessments, increase teacher resources to improve instruction, and advance the quality of science instruction in all districts across the state.

“It is a tribute to math and science teachers across the district for Hamilton County Schools to be selected to participate in the Tennessee District Science Network,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent at Hamilton County Schools. “Public education is ever-changing, and adapting the curriculum used in the classroom to address changes in state standards and how we teach these standards to children can present challenges for our teachers. We are excited to be a part of this effort to make that transition smoother for teachers and students across the state.”

A team of Hamilton County Schools teachers and instructional coaches has already met with educators across the state to develop a task library of three-dimensional tasks across all grade levels. Hamilton County Schools personnel participating in the work included Jenn Greever, lead math and science teacher for elementary grades; Adrianne Cowan, a teacher at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA); LeeAnn Plumlee, a curriculum coach at Hixson High; and Stephen Kline, a teacher at Soddy Daisy High. Teachers across the district and state are piloting the work of these science professionals in classrooms during the school year. One task developed by the group uses the cell phone signal to teach students the role of waves in communication systems.

“Work for year two of the network will focus on looking at student work samples to see if any revisions of the tasks are needed,” said Angie Mullins, math and science lead teacher for Hamilton County Schools. “The districts will complete the work in late winter to early spring, and Achieve will hold a launch of the TDSciN task library in May. The complete library of tasks should be publicly available in June.”