The Academy for Leadership in Science Instruction (the Academy) is a three-year professional development program for teachers, principals and district administrators who work together in School- and District-based Teams to deepen their understanding of strong classroom science instruction and the fundamentals of leadership. Launched in 2008, the Academy builds upon more than 16 years of collaborative work among the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) and its partner school districts. In 2011, MISE celebrated the Academy's first graduating class. To date, hundreds of teachers and principals have participated, as well as dozens of district administrators, including superintendents and science supervisors.
School- and District-based Teams participating in the Academy have access to a professional development curriculum based on the most current research on student learning and effective instruction in science. The core text for the Academy is Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, an award-winning publication of the National Research Council developed and published with support from MISE. Ready, Set, SCIENCE! synthesizes what is known about how children in grades K-8 learn the ideas and practices of science.
The goals of the Academy are for participants to articulate a vision of effective science instruction, function as a community of learners and engage their colleagues. The three years of the Academy are structured to ensure intense immersion in new content and practices during residential sessions in the summer, while supporting ongoing, long-term experiences in schools and sessions during the academic year. Each year of the Academy has a unique science focus which serves as a vehicle to explore how students learn science in order to support teachers in providing effective instruction.
Among the long-term goals of the Academy is to have the work of the teams extend far beyond the end of the formal three-year experience. Teams continue to meet, study and engage colleagues in improving science instruction. Through a School Based Inquiry process, teams develop their capacity to analyze classroom and school practices and make decisions to improve those practices based on evidence. The Academy experience is a starting point for continuous improvement in the science program at the school and district levels.