School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt
The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (The School) is a joint Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools venture linking the expertise of both institutions to the innate and emerging talents of highly capable students in grades 9-12. The School enrolls students who excel in science and math and enthusiastically seek an advanced curriculum that goes beyond traditional instruction to broaden their horizons. Upon graduation students will be prepared to succeed at top-ranked universities and to enter careers that require high-level critical thinking and the advanced research skills to solve real-world problems. The School brings students into the university campus life where they are taught and mentored by Ph.D. scientists. The curriculum reflects the interdisciplinary nature of current scientific discovery which will allow the students to learn from a research-centered approach throughout their School experience. The main elements of the School are interdisciplinary instruction in science and mathematics by Ph.D. teacher/scientists guest lectures by Vanderbilt researchers hands-on laboratories visits to Vanderbilt research centers fieldtrips student outreach projects electronic collaboration using Moodle and summer research laboratory internships. Attendance at the School is considered part of the MNPS school day. The coursework has been approved by MNPS and the State of Tennessee as a high school elective. The students receive a letter grade from their Vanderbilt class that is entered on their high school transcript. A liaison from the School meets with high school guidance counselors to resolve any issues about scheduling or assignments. The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt Goals: 1. Serve those students who excel in science and math and enthusiastically seek an advanced curriculum that will challenge them to go beyond traditional instruction. 2. Elevate the scientific insights and research capabilities of highly competent and motivated MNPS students. 3. Prepare high school science and math students to succeed in undergraduate and graduate programs at top ranked universities. 4. Prepare students to enter careers that require critical thinking and the ability to solve real-world problems. 5. Disseminate information about clinical and basic research processes in the larger community through student-driven outreach and service learning. 6. Establish a model of a Research I University-K-12 partnership for replication and integration of best practices by other school systems in urban communities.
The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt will be a joint Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) venture linking the expertise of the university to highly capable students in grades 9-12. The curriculum will focus on interdisciplinary science and the development of critical thinking skills and methods of inquiry necessary to conduct scientific research. Admission to the program will be based on grades standardized test scores recommendations interviews written statements and projects. The School will also seek the “uncommon scholar”. Students will attend the School one day per week on the Vanderbilt campus while continuing their traditional education at their zoned school during the academic year. Scientists and scientists-in-training will work together with students to create a strong scientific learning community. Dedicated School Ph.D. instructors will form the faculty core while Vanderbilt research faculty will provide mentorship in research internships and instruction in advanced electives. An adjunct teaching corps of postdoctoral fellows advanced graduate students and retired scientists will generate complementary instruction. One-day coursework will consist of core lessons laboratories and enrichment including site visits seminars journal clubs and interactive videoconferences to integrate content across an interdisciplinary sequential curriculum. Summer research projects will grow from team to independent work culminating with their centerpiece summer research internship following 11th grade. Students will work intensively with faculty scientist mentors to carry out an independent research project while attending supplemental breakout sessions with the adjunct postdoctoral corps. As seniors students will submit to national science competitions and journals. They will also translate their research into community outreach projects. Formative and summative evaluation of the School will b completed by external evaluators. The establishment of this School will contribute highly qualified scholars into the academic science pipeline advance the scientific professional workforce and produce citizens who are well-informed about science-related policies and issues.
The evaluation of the School is being conducted by external evaluators using a mixed-method approach guided by a Logic Model to examine program implementation effectiveness outcomes and impact. A quasiexperimental study will compare students in the School to a matched control group using cognitive gains on standardized science and math tests as available from the school system. The students in the School will be followed after graduation and compared to a control group who did not attend to determine the impact of the School on choices about higher education and STEM careers. The evaluators collect demographic data and qualitative data about the School from anonymous student surveys descriptions of service projects research laboratory internships entries and awards from science competitions publications classroom observations and interviews with the School faculty and staff. The evaluators meet regularly with the School director and staff to provide formative evaluation and will report summative results to determine the project’s impact. Evaluation research questions: 1. How effective is the School in developing student scientific research capabilities critical thinking the ability to address real world problems and to provide outreach to the community through service learning? Evidence to answer this question will be gathered from the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt internal records of student assignments activities anonymous surveys and other anonymous qualitative data. 2. How do participating and non-participating students’ mean scores differ on Tennessee statemandated standardized achievement tests in science and mathematics? This question will be answered through a quasi-experimental research study using anonymous student achievement data provided by MNPS comparing students in the School to a matched control group of students who do not attend the School. 3. How do students who attend the School compare to students who do not attend in entry to high level universities college graduation rates advanced degrees careers in STEM areas and contributions to scientific research? This question will be answered through a quasi-experimental longitudinal study using survey data gathered annually after high school graduation from students in the School compared to a matched control group of volunteer students who did not attend. 4. How effective is the comprehensive partnership between a research university and a high needs local school system in serving those students who excel in science and math and enthusiastically seek an advanced curriculum that will challenge them to go beyond traditional instruction? Evidence to answer this question will be gathered from extant data documenting the cooperative agreements between Metro Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt; quantitative participation data; and qualitative data such as news reports interviews and quotes about the School.
students grades 9-12
Interdisciplinary science and math.