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Subject Test Preparation as a Purpose of Teacher Development Programs in Science: Summative Evaluation of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute’s No Child Left Behind Teacher Quality Program


Judy Hirabayashi, Pam Castori, Heather Mitchell, Laura Stokes, Inverness Research Inc.


The purpose of this summative evaluation report is to document and assess the impact of a National Science Foundation grant to the Exploratorium to offer courses for teachers preparing to take one or more California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) tests in science. Passing CSET tests is one way teachers can meet the stringent teacher quality standards mandated by federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy.

The Exploratorium is known internationally as a center for inquiry-based science. For this NCLB Teacher Quality Project (NCLB TQP), the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute set out to provide test preparation courses that build on their long-running and highly regarded professional development programs for middle and high school teachers.

The evaluation found that while the blend of teaching improvement and test-prep purposes was not perfectly seamless, it did provide a professional development experience that participants reported was more valuable than other test preparation, and also better than other science professional development available in their districts. While data on CSET pass rates are very limited for program participants, those for whom we have test results passed at a higher rate than test takers statewide. Participants who had not yet attempted the CSET reported that the program made substantial contributions to their readiness to take the test.

The report concludes that other agencies that want to help prepare teachers who are not only uncertified but also under-prepared in science will need first to have the capacity to offer high-quality science professional development—including the ability to support novice teachers—and then to direct that capacity toward the additional purpose of test preparation. It lists the features of the TI program that are transferable to other programs. It includes a three page executive summary.

Intended Audience

Science Educators, Science Museum Educators, Teachers, School and District Administrators, Reform Leaders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research Associates

Date published

April 2007

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.

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