The Synergy of Science and English Language Arts: Means and Mutual Benefits of Integration

By Burr Tyler, Ted Britton, Ashley Iveland, Kimberly Nguyen, Jerry Hipps, Steve Schneider

The Synergy of Science and English Language Arts: Means and Mutual Benefits of Integration
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Description

NGSS Early Implementers is a four-year initiative created to help eight California school districts and two charter management organizations, supported by WestEd’s K–12 Alliance, implement Next Generation Science Standards.

The Initiative focuses on NGSS implementation in grades K–8 and incorporates the integrated course model (preferred by the California State Board of Education) for middle school.

This evaluation report discusses the integration of science and English language arts (ELA) in the school districts. Intended for school, state, and district leaders, the report addresses the following questions:

  • How much time are teachers spending on integrating science and ELA?
  • What does integration look like in classrooms?
  • How are students benefitting?
  • How is the Initiative empowering teachers to integrate these subjects?
  • What are recommendations for administrators to support integration of science and ELA?

Key findings after three years of the Initiative include:

  • About half of elementary and middle school teachers now teach 60 minutes or more per week of science integrated with ELA
  • Five ELA standards are now being addressed in science by 62 to 93 percent of teachers, and, across the Initiative, all Common Core State Standards-ELA are being addressed in science by at least some percentage of the Initiative’s teachers
  • Teachers use tools and strategies promoting both ELA and science learning, including using the 5E instructional model to scaffold lessons; helping students make sense of science through writing in notebooks; and using Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) and questioning strategies
  • To support integration, administrators at a minimum need to endorse counting integrated science–ELA instruction as some part of required ELA instructional time