College of William and Mary selected to receive $5.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant to lead Tidewater activities as part of the statewide STEM-focused initiative.

  • Grant to be awarded by the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; will fund the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA).
  • Goal of VISTA is to improve science teaching and student learning throughout Virginia, especially in high-need (high-poverty, high-minority) schools.

College of William and Mary will team with multiple school districts, six state universities, and the Virginia Department of Education.

  • University partners involved in VISTA include George Mason Univeristy, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison University.
  • VISTA will provide sustained, intensive science teacher professional development to increase student performance.

Science teaching in Virginia, as in the country, is hindered by two fundamental, unmet needs.

  • Elementary school teachers often have teaching degrees but lack a solid grounding in the inquiry-based nature of science.
  • On the secondary level, teacher shortages have led to the hiring of many uncertified teachers who have science degrees but little or no teaching experience or training.
  • These distinctly different problems in teacher preparation by grade level lead to a common result: Student achievement in science suffers.

VISTA will build upon, and expand, prior research and active learning programs conducted within William and Mary's School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Education and George Mason University's Center for Restructuring Education in Science and Technology (CREST).

  • Will utilize model to improve K-12 science teaching that has been previously incorporated into two programs that produced statistically significant gains in teaching instruction and student achievement.
  • VISTA will build state infrastructure for leadership and support needed to extend quality inquiry-based science teaching to student with limited English proficiency, students living in rural areas and students with disabilities.