Smithsonian Science Education Center Announces Five-Year U.S. Department of Education i3 Validation Study Results

February 24, 2016
News Release

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The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act cements the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for a 21st-century education. The Smithsonian Science Education Center recently concluded a five-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education validating its Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model as a systemic approach to transforming STEM. LASER consists of five elements: a research-based, inquiry-driven science curriculum; differentiated professional development; administrative and community support; materials support; and assessment. These elements, when planned around a shared vision for STEM, form the infrastructure to sustain student-centered learning and teaching.

The longitudinal study of the LASER model conducted by a third-party evaluator yielded many exciting outcomes regarding the impact of research-based, hands-on science instruction in light of the new legislation. The Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis studied approximately 60,000 students in grades 1–8 attending public schools in the Houston Independent School District, eight school districts in northern New Mexico and seven school districts in North Carolina. Their study unequivocally demonstrates that inquiry-based science improves student achievement not only in science but also in reading and math at elementary and middle school. LASER plays a critical role in bolstering student learning, especially among underserved populations, including children who are economically disadvantaged, require special education or are English-language learners.

The complete Executive Summary and summative evaluation report is available at

About the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The mission of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, formerly the National Science Resources Center, is to transform and improve the learning and teaching of science for K–12 students. The Smithsonian Science Education Center is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K–12 science education.

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