Merck Institute for Science EducationApproach

The Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) began by reviewing existing research on professional development and identified the core characteristics associated with success. MISE used these core design features as pillars of the Institute’s own professional development design framework.

The work of the Institute is largely focused on creating professional development opportunities in partnership with local school districts. This professional development supports educators as they increase their knowledge and understanding of science content, and provides effective strategies to help them teach science well. A significant outgrowth of this partnership is a unique working relationship of collaborative planning with local educators, ensuring that the support the Institute offers is relevant and meets their specific needs. MISE works closely with its district partners to help make connections among student content and performance standards, instructional materials, local and state assessments and school and district goals in order to develop a professional community with a shared vision of effective science instruction.

MISE’s approach to professional development is rooted in the Institute’s deep respect for educators and the teaching profession. Recognizing that accomplished practitioners have much to offer their colleagues, MISE continually invests in the development of teacher leaders. MISE also works collaboratively with superintendents and their leadership teams to implement programs as well as develop each district leadership's capacity to support effective science instruction.

MISE also seeks to have a broader impact on policies that support science education at the local, state and national levels. Locally, MISE works with school districts to support best practices that are aligned with state standards. At the state level, MISE has actively participated in the development of New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards in Science, New Jersey's Professional Development Standards and the New Jersey state code for required continuing education for all teachers.

MISE’s approach and work at the local and state levels have been recognized by the leading national bodies involved in education. In 2008, MISE provided congressional testimony on “Innovation in Education through Business and Education STEM Partnerships.” MISE frequently participates in stakeholder meetings on science education, continues to partner with leading organizations and advocates for public/private partnerships and shares its approach with universities, corporations and foundations.

[Program Evaluation]

In order to support continuous program improvement, MISE engages in a rigorous program evaluation. This evaluation measures changes in student performance and participation, instructional practice, school culture and district policy with respect to science learning and teaching.

Evaluation is both formative and summative so that the results can be used to support ongoing program improvement as well as to measure program impact. The plan is administered by nationally-respected evaluation organizations.

Evaluation reports indicate that MISE's long-term, reflective, collaborative approach has had significant impact on science education at the local level: