Teacher Preparation > Supporting Practicing Teachers > Browse Professional Development Programs > NCOSP Summer Academy

A part of the SERC Teacher Professional Development Program Collection

Teachers working on a physics activity during the NCOSP Summer Academy.
Teachers working on a physics activity during the NCOSP Summer Academy. Photo courtesy of NCOSP.
Page prepared for SERC by Jennifer L. B. Anderson, Ph.D.

NCOSP Summer Academy

Program URL: https://www.ncosp.smate.wwu.edu/calendar/cal.cfm?func=details&event_id=309
Program Type:
Professional Development Institute

Program Size:
Roughly 100 "Teacher Leaders"
Grade Level: 3rd - 10th grades


Scott Linneman, Ph.D.
Geology Instructor
Department of Geology and SMATE Program at Western Washington University

Program Summary


This professional development institute is used to train Teacher Leaders associated with the NCOSP program. The institute runs for two weeks each year for three years and explores a different science subject each year (Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Science). The Teacher Leaders represent teachers from each school building in the 26 school districts affiliated with the NCOSP program. All grade levels from 3-10 are represented and the teachers teach the entire spectrum of science subjects. The Teacher Leaders then return home to provide professional development for all the science teachers in their school building. Faculty from the NCOSP universities and colleges run the institute along with six Teachers on Special Assignment who work at Western Washington University during the year developing curricula and professional development programs.

Resources about the development and design of the NCOSP program are also available.

How is the program structured?

Each year the science subject explored during the summer academy is different so that the returning teacher leaders get exposed to the entire spectrum of science subjects taught in the schools. They are then better prepared to return to their school and offer further professional development, support and guidance to the other science teachers. The first year of the academy (2004) covered Physical Sciences, while the second and third years cover Life Sciences and Earth Science, respectively. During the academy, teachers frequently break into smaller teams to discuss and explore common issues related to either grade level or region.

Various materials are provided to the teachers during the workshop, although no specific text is used. Curriculum guides, book sections, videos, activities, and other learning tools are used to engage teachers in the process of active learning much like how they will later engage their students.

Who is involved?

The North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership (NCOSP) program is a regional university-schools partnership that is composed of one university, four community colleges, 26 school districts, and 5 science education supporting partners throughout western Washington State. Western Washington University heads up this large partnership. In order to reach as many school teachers as possible, one teacher from each school building in the NCOSP program is chosen as a "Teacher Leader". These teacher leaders are brought together for the NCOSP Summer Academy to learn about the NCOSP program, its goals, curriculum materials, and support structure. These teachers then return to their buildings and provide professional development for all the other science teachers in that building. Because this is a large science education reform initiative, teacher leaders return to the Summer Academy for three consecutive summers. Each summer a different science subject is explored in terms of both content and pedagogy.

In addition, each year teachers receive the following grant-funded benefits: tuition, fees, parking and food, a single occupancy room on campus for the two weeks, a $750 honorarium for 10 days of participation, and 8 graduate credits in science education or 80 clock hours of professional development. Teachers who complete the three-year program will have recieved 24 credits toward a Masters degree in Science Education at Western Washington University.

How is the program evaluated?

The program and the teachers involved are evaluated using a number of methods including pre- and post-tests, weekly surveys (of both participants and staff), and interviews with participants.

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