Pennsylvania’s education system saw significant changes in 2022 by adopting new learning goals for grades K–12, known as the Science, Technology, Engineering, Environment Literacy, and Sustainability (STEELS) standards.
To prepare students for this shift in the classroom, education leaders are investing in their science programs by launching another year of work in the Pennsylvania Science Education Leaders (PennSEL) Network, a group of regional teams working to transform science teaching and learning across the commonwealth.
The PennSEL Network was created in 2021 by NextGenScience at WestEd, a project dedicated to advancing quality science education. NextGenScience worked with local leaders to start the Network in anticipation of the new STEELS standards in all 29 of Pennsylvania’s regional education offices or Intermediate Units (IUs).
The Network engages teams in learning, strategic planning, and project implementation to create science programs that support all students to meet the STEELS standards, which call for students to use science to make sense of the world around them and design solutions to problems.
Jenn Hoffman, Learning Design and College and Career Development Specialist at Oley Valley School District and PennSEL Network member, says, “This is an incredibly effective set of workshops for planning strategies for our PennSEL team, but also for developing strategies for my district and being able to be a leader to other schools in my area around new science standards implementation.”
Network participants prepare as leaders to update the many pieces affected by new statewide learning goals, such as curriculum, teacher professional learning, and school policies. Hoffman from Oley Valley School District continued, “The information is valuable, timely, effective, and largely replicable, making it a relevant and meaningful use of my time. In every case, I have been able to quickly turn the information and learnings from PennSEL Network sessions into actionable progress at my school.”
The PennSEL Network is made possible with support from Arconic Foundation and the Grable Foundation. “Investing in the capacity of educators and school districts to thoughtfully design and implement science curriculum will pay dividends for Pennsylvania’s students for years to come,” said Ryan Kish, Arconic Foundation President and Treasurer. “The PennSEL Network is equipping educators with the tools they need to embrace the new statewide science learning goals with locally-designed solutions that work best for their community and district.”
The PennSEL Network aims to provide support to begin the key strategies needed to launch this work. Each PennSEL Network team is eligible to receive $20,000 in grant funds and guidance to start enacting their plans in areas such as:
- Building a shared vision for science instruction in their community,
- Establishing a science leadership council
- Supporting teams to evaluate and select high-quality instructional materials
- Building teacher leader and administrator capacity
- Boosting capacity to design learning opportunities for school and district-based educators
The work will prepare Pennsylvania students for the revised state science assessments expected to be released in the 2025–26 school year.
Register for a February 22 webinar in which members of the PennSEL Network will share some of their work and lessons learned here.