Houston— Nov. 1, 2016— In 2016, 77 percent of fifth graders in San Elizario Indpendent School District (ISD) successfully passed the STAAR® science test, up from 57 percent in 2015. What changed? During the 2015-16 school year, teachers began using STEMscopes™ Texas as their primary science curriculum. Developed by Accelerate Learning™and Rice University, STEMscopes is the most widely used science curriculum in Texas.
"Two years ago, our fifth grade teachers were using a hodgepodge of resources and our science scores dropped. Last year, they decided to make STEMscopes their primary science curriculum and the percentage of students passing the STAAR Grade 5 Science Assessment rose by 20 points," said Deborah Cortez, science and math instructional officer for San Elizario ISD. "That gain is huge, especially considering the number of English language learners in our district. To further illustrate this marked improvement, all three of our elementary campuses received the academic distinction of 'achievement in science' through the state accountability system."
In San Elizario ISD, which is approximately 15 miles southeast of El Paso, the student population is 99 percent Hispanic, 96 percent economically disadvantaged, 72 percent at-risk, and 50 percent limited English proficient. According to Cortez, the district chose to implement STEMscopes because the digital STEM curriculum is 100 percent aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and it is rooted in 5E instructional model. Today San Elizario ISD uses STEMscopes district-wide in grades K-8, as well as a Spanish version that is available for grades K-5. It is also using STEMscopes Early Explorer in prekindergarten.
"Our students love STEMscopes and our teachers love having so many resources within the 5E model — particularly within the 'Explain' and 'Elaborate' phases, which are very helpful for English learners. Our teachers also appreciate that it's so user-friendly and that it provides support for them as well," said Cortez. "With STEMscopes, our students are now more excited about STEM and they have more confidence."
STEMscopes provides teacher and student digital resources, supplemental print materials, and hands-on exploration kits that built student engagement and excitement for learning. Studies show that students who use STEMscopes Texas have higher passing rates on science assessments such as the STAAR. In addition, in prekindergarten programs that use STEMscopes Early Explorer, teachers spend more time on STEM.