Research Reports

Discover a wealth of social sector knowledge through reports from experts, foundations, nonprofits, and research institutions working in education.

  • What Education Leaders Can Learn About NGSS Implementation: Highlights From the Early Implementers Initiative
  • Rural STEM Education: Promising Strategies from Several California Counties
  • Illustrating Improvement: Noteworthy Practices to Inform California’s Math and Science Standards Implementation
  • Developing Resources to Build Statewide Capacity and Cohesion for Mathematics and Science Standards Implementation
  • What Education Leaders Can Learn About NGSS Implementation: Highlights From the Early Implementers Initiative

    Summary

    From 2014 through 2020, eight diverse school districts and two charter management organizations ran a substantial experiment with ways of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in elementary and middle grades, called the California K - 8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative. The Initiative certainly illustrated that a big financial investment can produce powerful change. However, even districts facing resource challenges may benefit from the lessons that were learned and the strategies that were developed by the Initiative.

    An external evaluation team has previously released a series of reports on what can be learned from the efforts of the Initiative districts. All reports are intended to be helpful to administrators at the school and district levels, education policymakers, and people charged with designing and/or delivering science professional learning. After briefly describing how the NGSS call for big shifts in science teaching and learning, this highlights report shares high-level, major learnings from the evaluation, distilled into only a couple dozen pages of main narrative. The report describes NGSS instruction as a powerful lever for equitable learning, explains how the Initiative made this kind of instruction happen, and describes the importance of the Initiative's ambitious professional learning for administrators.

  • Rural STEM Education: Promising Strategies from Several California Counties

    Summary

    Since 2015, WestEd has provided research capabilities, technical assistance, and evaluation support for the California Partnership for Math and Science Education (the Partnership), a statewide initiative designed to increase access to high-quality math and science teaching and learning.

    Through this ongoing work, WestEd has supported two communities of practice, one each for math and science, as well as work conducted by teams of education leaders collaborating to support math and science standards implementation and improve education and learning outcomes.

    This brief provides information on rural education concerns that are found across the state of California and presents examples of rural California counties' strategies for supporting math and science standards implementation.

    Key takeaways emerged from WestEd's study of this statewide initiative, chief among them that:

    • While distance means that many rural regions have significant barriers to meaningful collaboration, technology and targeted investments in face time offer improved opportunities for teamwork.
    • Some rural areas in California have been able to amplify their professional learning efforts by distributing leadership and responsibilities, and by thinking critically about ways that educators in different grade levels can learn from one another.
    • Many of the promising strategies highlighted in the brief can be adapted and replicated at relatively low cost.
  • Illustrating Improvement: Noteworthy Practices to Inform California’s Math and Science Standards Implementation

    Summary

    Since 2015, WestEd has provided research capabilities, technical assistance, and evaluation support for the California Partnership for Math and Science Education (the Partnership), a statewide initiative designed to increase access to high-quality math and science teaching and learning.

    Through this ongoing work, WestEd has worked with the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), the California Department of Education (CDE), and the California State Board of Education (SBE), to run communities of practices for regional teams of educators since 2016. Additionally, regional teams have received two rounds of grant funding to plan and pilot standards implementation initiatives.

    These innovative micro-grants were designed to test the idea that local innovation could be stimulated with relatively modest investments. They offered teams an opportunity to collaborate deeply on regional and county needs related to standards implementation, fashion projects in response to local challenges, and continue to learn from and incorporate their learning to improve and sustain their efforts beyond the grant funding period.

    This report shares information about select initiatives' current progress and strategies in order to create an opportunity for ongoing conversations about useful practices to support standards implementation. Specifically, the report focuses on a selection of noteworthy practices and tools crafted by project teams as they planned for and began to implement their second-year plans supported by the Partnership's improvement grants.

  • Developing Resources to Build Statewide Capacity and Cohesion for Mathematics and Science Standards Implementation

    Summary

    Two resource development programs received funding as part of an initiative to help build capacity for mathematics and science standards implementation across California: The Fostering NGSS Implementation Program and the Fostering Math Standards Implementation Program.

    The programs drew on a diverse body of expertise and cross-regional and organizational leadership to encourage the creation of math and science resources that could both address common standards implementation challenges found statewide and promote equitable math and science opportunities for all students.

    This resulted in education leaders (e.g., county office of education, content specialists, coordinators, and non-profit representatives) working together in three teams for science resources, and one team for math.

    This brief focuses on these four teams' experiences with planning, developing, and piloting resources aimed at reducing the variability in and building capacity for mathematics and science standards implementation across California.

    It first examines aspirations and expectations for the resources, and perspectives on progress made toward aims. It then examines key processes and activities concerning leadership structures, planning and development, and piloting that teams engaged in to develop their products and attain their goals.

    The brief concludes with key challenges and lessons learned, then provides a list of recommendations for funding or implementing further resource development efforts requiring statewide collaboration and scale.