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Hazelwood Schools, Washington U. Partnership Brings Improvements

The Hazelwood School District (HSD) is seeing the results of improved science test scores from a partnership with Washington University faculty and administration that began in 2008. Since the partnership started, scores on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests have increased 22.4 percentage points for fifth-graders, and 12 percentage points for eighth-graders over a five-year period.

“We have improved at a higher rate in science compared to other schools in the state, and I believe it is a direct result of our relationship with Washington University and the support they have given us,” said Grayling Tobias, Ed.D. HSD superintendent.

Washington University is providing support for HSD through its Institute for School Partnership (ISP) and its community based initiative to improve K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

HSD teachers are given on-site instruction, and earn 15-credit hours of graduate level work. Washington University’s faculty provides additional support to HSD science teachers. The university also supplies instruction materials and kits for students and teachers.

“This program has changed the way I teach in so many ways. When I first started teaching science, I was pleased if the students did the experiment the way I told them to. But that was boring to me, and boring to the kids,” said Georgene Collier, fifth grade science teacher at Russell Elementary School. “The program has given me confidence and expanded my thinking about science and about how I wanted to present science in the classroom.

“The big thing I learned through the program: Having the students write their own testable questions, and then come up with their own hypothesis. That’s totally new from when I learned science growing up,” said Sara Berghoff, Jamestown Elementary School fifth grade science teacher. “When I was in fifth grade we read out of a textbook. Science is really hands-on, and I think that’s another thing that has helped our test scores, too; everything is hands-on and students like to be a part of it.”

HSD is looking to improve in other areas as well. “This program has been so successful,” Tobias says, “that we are planning to replicate it in the area of English language arts with the University of Missouri-St. Louis. That’s how strongly we feel about the partnership with Washington University.” (story provided by Hazelwood District Communications Dept.)


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