Educational leaders have long wrestled with how to help schools meet ambitious science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) practice standards. Transforming instructional practice to meet those standards requires both teachers and students to re-envision their classroom roles, with students taking greater responsibility for disciplinary thinking and reasoning, and teachers supporting them in doing so. With new science and math standards implementation in full swing, leaders are again challenged to build professional development opportunities that help teachers achieve these goals.
In schools where teachers possess weaker subject matter knowledge, this challenge is heightened. Studies of past standards-based reforms suggest that less knowledgeable teachers may transform investigation-based tasks into direct instruction, represent subject matter as facts and procedures rather than as disciplinary principles and practices, stymie student thinking, or even deliver inaccurate content. For this likely-substantial population of teachers, the learning demands of standards-based reform are steep.