December 29, 1997
Why is science so popular in the Riverview School District?
by Fred McCarthy
The Communities of Carnation and Duvall and the Snoqualmie Valley area are blessed with the natural beauty of rivers, mountains, lakes, and streams which create an environment conductive to the study of science. The opportunity to study water quality, food chains, migration of water fowl, and other wildlife exists in one's own backyard.
The Parents of students in the school district work in many companies which specialize in the application of science and technology concepts to everyday life. Computers are available in many homes for use by parents and students. Parents have high expectations for student success and achievement in the areas of mathematics and science.
The Teachers in the district at the middle and elementary levels joined with teachers from two neighboring districts three years ago and sought to accomplish three goals: 1. to develop a new vision for elementary science curriculum; 2. to establish mechanisms to implement and sustain this vision; and 3. to provide staff development to implement and sustain this vision. They were Cindy Brune, Diane Evans, and Sue Swenson-Healey from Cherry Valley Elementary; Margaret Carnegie, Cathy Cushman, and Barb Haas from Stillwater Elementary; Betty Rich and Joan Turchin from Carnation Elementary; and Carol Hall and Brian Saulsman from Tolt Middle School.
The Administration in the district acknowledged the importance of the science curriculum and the need to enhance science instruction and provided the structure to facilitate the flow of resources to meet the challenge.
The Students in the district have participated in community science fairs, instructional programs and science projects which have stimulated interest in the scientific method and problem solving. The Science Champions program is just one example which involved fifth graders from Stillwater Elementary: Darek Cioch, Trevor Foote, Tabitha Gray, Emily Hendrickson, Aaron Hossack, and Katherine Taylor.
The Curriculum in science has been aligned to the state essential academic learning requirements. This was a process involving teachers from throughout the school district examining what was taught in science and matching it to the state standards. The curriculum is available for inspection by anyone with internet access at http://www.riverview.wednet.edu.
The Result: Standardized test scores in science for Riverview fourth and eighth graders are significantly above the state average by 17 and 18 percentile points respectively: grade four, Riverview-73rd percentile, Washington State-56th percentile; grade eight, Riverview-74th percentile, Washington State-56th percentile (1996 data most recent available with state comparison data). When a community values education, and teachers with the support of parents and administration provide a quality curriculum and exciting learning experiences to students, there are no limits to learning that can occur.