From its inception, the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) has sought to support the capacity of school districts to create and sustain innovative classroom practice. The Institute's best practices have been cited in the National Research Council's influential 2006 report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," and in the 2007 National Governors Association publication "Innovation America – Building a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Agenda."
The theory behind the work of MISE rests on eight building blocks designed to guide and support improvement in science instruction throughout a district. These eight core elements are based on the premise that the best path to ensure every child access to high-quality science instruction is through deliberate and sustained efforts to improve teaching and learning in all science classrooms:
- Improving science teaching and learning requires building and supporting strong communities of educators within and across schools.
- A district must select accomplished teachers who can lead, coach and model good practice.
- Teachers must be supported by highly skilled principals who practice collaborative leadership.
- Principals, teachers and school staff need regular access to high-quality professional development so that they can continuously improve their practice.
- Professional development must establish a culture of evidence-based practice, modeling the use of data to make decisions and preparing teachers and administrators to adopt this approach.
- Principals and teachers should have access to tools and strategies that have been used effectively in other schools and districts.
- Effective implementation requires district focus and coherence, with sufficient resources and time allotted to encourage continuous participation in professional development.
- The district and MISE planning together for the work develops commitment, builds understanding, and helps generate public support.