Assessment Report: Science in Pre-K Program and Web Site

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Resource Type:
Evaluation Reports
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Professional Development and Workshops
Pre-K Children (0-5) | Educators/Teachers
Education and learning science | Physics | Space science
National Air and Space Museum, Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.

The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) contracted with Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) to help determine realistic strategies and next steps for scaling up its Science in Pre-K program, a PNC Bank-funded teacher professional development program that supports District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) preschool teachers in teaching science through exploration and problem solving. How did we approach this project? RK&A prepared two literature reviews—Scaling Up and Distance Education—intended to explore best practices for scaling up non-profit programs and facilitating distance learning programs; and a companion report that presents findings from interviews with teachers who have participated in the Science in Pre-K program (in-person or online), as well as findings from a discussion group with DCPS instructional coaches about the Science in Pre-K web site. Both deliverables informed a third and final deliverable, an Evaluation Plan that NASM can use to guide future planning and evaluation of Science in Pre-K programming. The keystone of the Evaluation Plan is an Impact Planning Framework that emerged from a workshop where NASM staff collaborated to determine the ultimate effect they hope to have on DCPS teachers who participate in the Science in Pre-K program. What did we learn? NASM’s over-arching question is: “What will a scaled-up version of Science in Pre-K look like?” The literature reviews suggested two likely models for scaling up Science in Pre-K: (1) a centralized model where NASM manages access to all Science in Pre-K experiences and resources onsite and online; (2) a “train the trainer” model where preschool teachers who participate in Science in Pre-K are carefully selected to champion and help implement the Science in Pre-K model and approaches in their school or community. Further, the assessment report revealed three key characteristics of the current Science in Pre-K program that NASM staff may wish to maintain when scaling up—relevance/applicability (knowledge and activities that have direct applicability to the classroom), collaboration/communication (opportunities to communicate and collaborate with other teachers and knowledgeable instructors), and knowledge-/skill-building. What are the implications of the findings? Scaling up an existing program is a tall task for any museum. NASM’s approach to this process underscores the importance of thoughtful background research, planning, and evaluation when deciding to scale-up a model program. The three deliverables of this project were highly intentional and meant to meet three important goals: (1) understanding current best practices for models of scaling up and distance education programs (so as not to reinvent the wheel); (2) assessing teachers’ experiences in the current Science in Pre-K program to reveal essential elements to maintain when growing the program; and (3) articulating clear intentions for ongoing planning (Impact Framework) and evaluation (Evaluation Plan) efforts for Science in Pre-K as it grows into a national model.

Team Members

Randi KornRandi KornEvaluator
Emily SkidmoreEvaluator
Emily CraigEmily CraigEvaluator

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