Standardized Test Outcomes: Inquiry-Based Science in an Urban Setting
Geier, R., Blumenfeld, P., Marx, R., Krajcik, J., Fishman, B., Soloway, E. & Clay-Chambers, J. (2004)
Findings demonstrate that a standards-based, inquiry science curriculum can lead to standardized achievement test gains in historically underserved urban students, when the curriculum is highly specified, developed, and aligned with professional development and administrative support. A scalable systemic reform effort in Detroit Public Schools used highly specified and developed project-based inquiry science units supported by professional development and learning technologies. Two cohorts of 7th and 8th graders are compared with the remainder of the district population, using results from the high-stakes state standardized test in science. Both the initial and scaled up cohorts show increases in science content understanding and process skills over their peers, and significantly higher pass rates on the statewide test. The effect of participation in units at different grade levels is independent and cumulative, with higher levels of participation associated with similarly higher achievement scores. Examination of results by gender reveals that the curriculum effort succeeds in reducing the gender gap in achievement experienced by urban African-American boys.