For the past 30 years, the Institute for School Partnership (ISP), an academic center at Washington University in St. Louis, has worked regionally with schools and community organizations to empower educators and improve educational outcomes for all students. The ISP offers a variety of programs that serve approximately 189,000 students and 3,850 teachers from 56 school districts and 64 independent schools annually.
The largest of these is the mySci program, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)–aligned K–8 science curriculum. mySci includes activity materials, professional development sessions, and embedded support and is designed to increase hands-on science education for over 3,500 teachers and their students.
Even before the seismic disruptions of spring 2020, Missouri science students lagged behind, with large racial and economic achievement gaps (“Vital Signs” 2021). When schools first shut down, the implications of the unfolding educational crisis for science learning in our region were grim. With little national or local guidance, education communities needed to work together to safely adapt to remote teaching while supporting students and staff experiencing trauma from the shutdowns, illness, and deaths associated with the pandemic. As an organization focused on increasing high-quality STEM education, the ISP needed to reexamine our priorities and role without risking the fragile gains in science-teaching time and quality in partner schools.