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Professional Development

To teach is to make a life long commitment to learning--for our students and for ourselves. Teachers must work hard to stay abreast of new science content and pedagogy, which is why most states typically require ongoing professional development for re-certification every five years. LAB-AIDSĀ® can help teachers acquire new content and skills, whether you are a veteran teacher, new to the profession, or somewhere in between.

Evidence of Impact

Research Base

The following links and citations provide background on approaches that inform the development of our programs.  In general, these consist of peer-refereed journal articles, papers given at professional meetings, or unpublished research that supports the pedagogy in some way, such as support for inquiry-based teaching and learning, the value of formative assessments in the science classroom, using literacy approaches to support acquisition of science concepts, and related studies.

This book chapter, by Ronald Anderson, can be found in Handbook of Research on Science Education (edited by Sandra Abell and Norman Lederman, 2007, pp. 807-830) traces the use of inquiry as a theme of science education curriculum improvement efforts since the launch of Sputnik in the late 1950s.  This is a concise summary of the use of inquiry in science curriculum development, with a good bibliography, and provides a good background when read in conjunction with the article on goals for the science curriculum, immediately following.

This book chapter, by Rodger Bybee and George DeBoer (in Handbook of Research on Science Teaching and Learning, edited by Dorothy Gabel, 1994), provides an historical perspective on the goals of science education in the United States, with emphasis on subsequent changes in structure and function of science curricula. Written in the early 1990s and noteworthy for its anticipation of the changes associated with the release of the National Science Education Standards, the chapter also has an excellent bibliography.

In this paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in 2004, the authors explore the methodological challenges faced in fine tuning rubrics for scoring student learning in the SEPUP middle school life science course, Science and Life Issues.

This paper, presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, explores the challenges of creating effective extended items to assess middle school life science students’ understanding of concepts related to the National Science Education Standards for Inquiry, Life Science, and Science in Personal and Societal Perspectives. The authors describe their process for developing and revising items in order to enhance opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding.

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of integration in principle and in practice and is based on documentary analysis of the Science and Sustainability high school program from SEPUP.  It includes a detailed analysis of a succession of evaluation questionnaires to teachers at field test centers used for the development of the program. Integration happened effectively in principle, but contradictions were evident in teachers’ expectations of the balance between coverage of key science concepts and their contextualisation for citizenship.

This book discusses how to align classroom assessment with the national standards. As an alternative to the traditional single-letter grade system, it recommends SEPUP’s assessment system, which can be used both for formative or summative assessments.   It can be read for free online.

This article, by Ron Bonnstetter, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, makes a strong case for using inquiry teaching strategies in the science classroom.  It was originally published in the Electronic Journal of Science Education); v3 n1, Sept 1998.

This article, by Lorsbach and Tobin, presents the case for using constructivism for teaching science in the classroom, and challenges the reader to reflect on his or her science teaching and to implement changes that accord with constructivism.

In this article by Stanley Pogrow, SEPUP modules are described as supplementary materials which provide content in ways that are creative and rigorous and that make it relevant to student. They also are instrumental in developing students’ problem-solving and thinking skills.

This article, by David Perkins, explores the meaning of understanding and the importance of teaching for understanding. The author’s thesis is that typical classrooms do not give sufficient presence to thoughtful engagement in understanding performance. How to teach for learning is reviewed, focusing on both teaching and assessment.

In a meta meta-analysis of 844 studies (over 243,000 students), Hattie (2009) found that reform science programs outperformed traditional programs (2592 effects, d = 0.40). The highest effects came from enhanced content strategies (relating topics to previous experience or engaging student interest, d= 1.48; collaborative learning strategies, d = 0.67; inquiry strategies, d = 0.65; assessment strategies, d = 0.51; and use of technology, d = 0.48).  (Full citation:  Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Hattie, John C.  Routledge, London & New York, 2009)

This paper provides an excellent summary of the relevant research base for the underlying pedagogical approach used in the SEPUP programs, and is an excellent reference for interested readers.

Evidence of Impact/Testimonials

The following links and citations provide evidence of teacher or student impact, and include qualitative or quantitative studies, case studies, formative program/developmental studies, teacher action research and more.  These are listed by program.



Contact: Heather Maciejewski, Native American Magnet School, Buffalo (NY) Public Schools,

Heather has used the SGI Biology program for the past three years, beginning with her participation in the national field test of the program in 2007.  In 2008, 86% of her students passed the New York State Regents Living Environment Exam (a comprehensive, end-of-course test).  In 2009, her students’ pass rates were 94%, and in 2010, 100% of her students passed the exam.  For comparison purposes, the average district pass rates vary between 55-60%.


Tacoma, WA

Contact:   Virginia Rehberg, Wilson High School, Tacoma (WA) Public Schools,

Wilson High students use the Science & Sustainability program in their freshman year, and in 2009-10, student pass rates on the science portion of the Washington State High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) improved from 23% to 44%.
Los Angeles, CA
SEPUP Matters for Science Reform in the LAUSD
In 1995, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) started implementing a two- year high school sequence of Integrated/Coordinated Science (ICS) classes that were substantially based on Science and Sustainability. The ICS students showed significant gains on the SAT9 (Stanford Achievement Test) science test (Scott, 2000). The SAT-9 is a norm-referenced assessment that includes a science subtest designed to assess knowledge from life, physical, and earth and space sciences. The results of the LAUSD study of ICS also showed higher numbers of students, and in particular underrepresented minority students, intended to enroll in advanced science courses after taking ICS. The report is available, below, and was also published, in part, in the article "Integrated Science Study, in The Science Teacher, 67 (6), 56-59 (2000).


Contact:  John Settlage, University of Connecticut,

Professor John Settlage and colleagues at the University of Connecticut have been studying science achievement in grades 5 and 8 with funding from the National Science Foundation (grant #1119349). The data he uses includes annual statewide science test results along with student demographics. This allows comparisons of schools after taking account of enrollments of students typically underrepresented in STEM fields (i.e., students of color, English as a second language, low income). In 2008, Stamford 8th graders were performing slightly about the state average. Since then, performance has gradually increased such that Stamford school are now performing above the 70th percentile ... compared to ALL Connecticut schools. Over the same timeframe, SEPUP and GE Foundation support was being used to improve Stamford’s science programming. The exact cause of the elevated science test scores are not definitive but there is a strong suggestion that the improvements had something to do with the curriculum, the professional development, and the associated schoolwide alignment to science instruction.

Contact:  Hethyr Tregerman, 7th Grade, Healy (90% low income), Chicago Public Schools,

Over the first two years of implementation, state science test scores for my students increased by 15 points. Students were engaged in doing REAL science on a daily basis and consistently engaging in argument from evidence. Many students frequently commented that this was their favorite class, where they had previously disliked science in the past (as this was their first year with SEPUP.

Contact:  Les Seitman, 8th Grade, Prieto (96% low income), Chicago Public Schools,

During a data analysis meeting for NWEA, our Assistant Principal commented on how the scores for NWEA Math Data Analysis from our scholars have never been so high. She attributed it to (our teaching) and the SEPUP curriculum.

Contact: Rebecca Garelli, 6th-8th Grade, Talcott (95% low income), Chicago Public Schools,

I know in my experience, the first year I taught SEPUP 7th/8th grade, our science scores increased up to 80% Meets or Exceeds on the ISAT. Prior to using SEPUP our scores were not even close to that...I can’t recall the actual figures. Because of this immense jump in test scores, our school decided to go with SEPUP for 6th grade as well. This was 8 years ago. Our scores on science standardized tests have done nothing but increse over time since implementation. The success is due to the strong literacy components embedded within the program, as well as the numerous opportunities for students to engage in investigations/experiences and collect and analyze date. 

Contact:  Sergio Hernandez, 6th grade, Madero (99% low income), Chicago Public Schools,

I have seen a great deal of interest in science with my students. My students get excited when we have labs. The literacy strategies impeded in the curriculum are very engaging and helpful in understanding the science content. The flow of the activities leads to the big idea in each unit. The excitement and interest that my students demonstrate in science, I believe is due to the SEPUP curriculum. 

Contact:  Misty Richmond, 5th-6th grade, Lara (99% low income), Chicago Public Schools,

I’ve been using IAES for several years now and I know my students love science. Having actual real life issues connected to content makes it so much easier for students to grasp concepts. During the Earth in Space unit I like that students are able to write a letter of support for a future space mission based on evidence collected. They evaluate all the possible missions and decide which to fund in the future. Students work as real scientist and can see how what we do in the classroom applies to actual scientists working the real world. 

Contact: Jeanette Bartley, University of Chicago,

Jeanette is formerly the K-8 Science Manager, Chicago Public Schools.  Beginning in 2003, Chicago Public Schools began to implement SEPUP in grades 7-8 and later including grade 6 as well.  District-wide performance (% students scoring proficient or better) on the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) has increased from 47.6 in 2003 to 60.6 in 2006 (source:  Chicago Public Schools).   

Contact:   Dr. Stan Hill, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Wake-Forest University School of Medicine,

Dr. Hill is formerly the K-12 Science Director, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County (NC) Schools. The Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools(WSFCS) is comprised of 68 schools, including 14 middle and 8 high schools.  In its baseline year, 2002, the district served 46, 492 students; 51% white, 35% African-American, 10% Hispanic.

Winston-Salem has been using SEPUP modules in its middle and high schools for more than ten years.  The District uses some FOSS and STC units in its elementary science program and SEPUP units as the main component of its middle level (6-8) program in science. Teachers attend periodic staff development sessions led by district trainers, who have been themselves trained by SEPUP and LAB-AIDS staff.

In 2004-2005, approximately 50% of the Winston-Salem teachers were using SEPUP materials in their classrooms. According to the midpoint review of the district Urban Systemic Initiative (USI) program1, the SEPUP students outperformed their non-SEPUP peers.  As the table shows, the mean normal curve equivalent (NCE) scores for eighth grade SEPUP students averaged four points higher than their non-SEPUP peers. Moreover, this pattern persisted across all subgroups. This test was given early in the 2004-05 school year, and the SEPUP/non-SEPUP designation is based on the SEPUP status of the 7th grade teacher.

Contact:   Wendy M. Jackson, Ph.D., CCT Project Director, DePaul University, Chicago

In 2009, CPS began a concerted effort to strengthen the quality of science education at the middle grades level by ensuring that science teachers have the necessary credentials, access to high quality instructional materials, and sustained, coherent professional development on those materials.  The district expanded its scope and sequence to include SEPUP at 6th grade in addition to 7th and 8th grade.  A cadre of professional development leaders, drawn from among the most effect middle grade science teachers in the district, was created by the district and supported by Lab-Aids.  One result of this concerted effort was a jump in state test scores for middle grade science by 5.6 points, the largest gain for any grade and subject.

UPDATE: "In the first several years of implementation, state science test scores for my students increased by 41 points" 

Contact: :  Linda C Smith, Yorktown (IN) Middle School

I wanted to share some data feedback from our pilot of Genetics with my 8thGraders [in May 2011].  I am a strong proponent of data driven instruction and so I always pre and post test students with each unit.  For the SEPUP Genetics, I chose to give the test bank test as is for the Pre-test and Post-test.  I gave the test to 93 students.  Of the 93 students, all made less that 60%, but one student who made a 70% on the pre-test.

When I post tested the students I had the following results:

The majority of students showed at least 40% growth and many had over 50%.  I shared with John that I have always felt as though I was a good science teacher, but I believe a teacher who has great curriculum can truly be a GREAT TEACHER.  In these high stakes testing times in education having material that builds and scaffolds truly can make good education great and I am so excited to have had the chance to pilot SEPUP and to get to adopt SEPUP for our middle school science curriculum.  I really believe the students learned and understood Genetics through this curriculum.  I look forward to all the science that will be happening at YMS next year in all of our science classrooms.

SEPUP Formative/Developmental Efforts

As part of the national field test efforts for its middle and high school program, SEPUP examines the impact of its programs on student content knowledge attainment by means of pre-post tests with piloting student populations.  A summary of these efforts can be found in this document.  Effect sizes, as measured by both Cohen’s d and Cliff’s d generally ranged from 0.6 - 0.8, indicating very significant gains as a result of using the materials.

Research by Dr. Mark Wilson and his associates at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, found that the implementation of the embedded assessment system in the middle level SEPUP physical science program led to educationally significant increases in student achievement.