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Science study: Teacher participation in Columbia program improves student achievement in science
Date:10/16/2009

NEW YORK (Oct. 16, 2009) The notion that training teachers in the rigors of hands-on science will directly improve their students' academic performance now has real data behind it: Research assembled over the last decade now published in the Oct. 16 issue of Science shows that high school students' pass rate on New York State standardized tests, called Regents examinations, can be significantly improved if they are among the lucky few to study under a teacher trained in Columbia University's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers.

It's the first evidence that science teacher participation in a research experience program produces a significant increase in student achievement, the researchers report. The hallmark of the paper is the attendant data that took 12 years to collect. Columbia researchers have demonstrated that participation of academically prepared, experienced teachers in a sustained and focused research experience program significantly improves their students' performance in science. Participating teachers' students passed Regents science exams at a rate that was 10.1 percentage points higher than that of non-participating teachers' students in the same schools.

The authors of the paper, led by Samuel Silverstein, M.D., of Columbia University's departments of physiology and cellular biophysics and of medicine, and founder of the Summer Research Program for Science Teachers, as well as Columbia economist Sherry Glied, have also documented the economic benefits of making hands-on laboratory experience widely available to science teachers, demonstrating the kind of short- and long-term savings that can be realized when teachers are retained and students don't have to repeat coursework.

Since 1990, Columbia's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers, directed by Dr. Silverstein, has provided opportunities for metropolitan area middle and high school science teachers to do hands-on research for two consecut
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Contact: Alex Lyda
alyda@columbia.edu
212-305-0820
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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