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Toledo’s Early Childhood Science Program Wins AASCU’s McAuliffe Award

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has selected a professional development partnership of the University of Toledo (OH) to receive the 2017 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. The award will be presented October 22 at the AASCU Annual Meeting in La Jolla, California.

The winning program, NURTURES (Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science), aims to improve the science learning and readiness scores of preschool through third grade students in the Toledo area. NURTURES is a collaboration among the university’s education, engineering, and natural science faculty; local daycare centers and nursery schools; informal science centers; and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education. The program enhances teacher understanding of science content to improve classroom practices and offers classroom extension activities and family learning opportunities.

To win the AASCU award, the program had to demonstrate its impact on student learning – and NURTURES has quite a record to share. Comparing scores from the Renaissance STAR Early Literacy, Reading, and Mathematics screening assessments from 2015-16 in the Toledo Public School district, statistically significant results indicated that every year a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds 8.6 points to the student’s spring Early Literacy score, 17.0 points to his or her Mathematics score, and 41.4 points to his or her Reading score compared to control students. These effects suggest that rather than being treated as tangential, science instruction in early childhood and early elementary classrooms can be a critical component in increasing student achievement and closing gaps across several subject domains.

AASCU institutions award approximately 65% of public, 4-year bachelor’s degrees in education each year. The Christa McAuliffe Award honors excellence in teacher preparation at AASCU institutions. Specifically, it recognizes programs that have done an exemplary job of using evidence of their graduates’ impact on PK-12 learning outcomes to inform improvements to their preservice preparation and professional development programs. To win this award, teacher education and professional development programs must not only demonstrate effectiveness in producing PK-12 learning outcomes, but also explain how they have redesigned their programs as a result of these PK-12 learning outcomes.

Learn more about the Christa McAuliffe Award here, and read about AASCU’s other 2017 award winners here. For more information, contact Jolanda M. Westerhof, AASCU associate vice president for academic leadership and change and director for teacher education, at westerhofj@aascu.org.

Congratulations to the University of Toledo!