Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Astounding Gains in Standardized Science Test Scores

Francis Vigeant '04 has made a tremendous impact on education since graduating from Gordon College with a degree in economics. From his public office run with the Salem Public School systems, to the successful development of KnowAtom—a curriculum for for elementary and middle school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educationVigeant continues to make the news. This morning, he appeared for an interview on NPR's Morning Edition

The morning show, which airs on on over 170 news stations across the United States as well as internationally through the BBC, shone a spotlight on Vigeant's unique program in the context of its role in the 25% increase in standardized science-test scores for the City of Lynn—an unusually large increase for a public elementary school.   

Massachusetts is considered a leader in K-12 STEM education nationwide, but average proficiency statewide on standardized tests has been, at best, only 50%. NPR first took an interest in
Vigeant when they heard about the Lynn school district's success in test scores in schools using KnowAtom. 

"We've figured out how to help teachers deliver content required by the state (and recommended by the National Academies and National Research Council) that engages students through labs," said Vigeant, who worked as a high school math teacher following his graduation from Gordon, and before founding KnowAtom. "Our approach places the emphasis on quality instruction and appeals to children's curiosity to help them achieve with the gifts they have been given. While we're happy that the standardized tests validate that we're producing rapid gains across all socioeconomics they are merely a data point to inform practices. We're most impressed with the level of engagement and understanding students exhibit though the curriculum beginning in first grade."

The KnowAtom program will be in place in all Lynn elementary schools and one city middle school starting tomorrow. They’re among the 31 Massachusetts schools to use Vigeant's program this fall, continuing the city's outstanding gains in MCAS results. "KnowAtom empowers students to make informed decisions in an increasingly complex world," said
Vigeant. "In a classroom using KnowAtom, students learn that truth is not always what you’d expect it to be, nor is it always easy to find. As a graduate of Gordon, I’m pleased to carry forward what I’ve learned and pioneer what could transform American STEM education."

To listen to the broadcast, visit Boston's NPR station on WBUR here

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