NORTHAMPTON, MA—A $3 million National Science Foundation grant will bring a new science curriculum to youth involved in juvenile justice system in Massachusetts.
Through Project RAISE (Reclaiming Access to Inquiry-based Science), University of Massachusetts in Amherst (UMass Amherst) scholars, staff from the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton, and experts from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), will work together to develop and pilot an innovative biology curriculum that is accessible, effective and engaging for diverse learners.
Project RAISE demonstrates that Massachusetts is leading the way towards the use of project-based inquiry science instruction based upon the principles of Universal Design for Learning, an educational framework used to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all students. Project RAISE is not only innovative for correctional education settings, but as a model for educational practice more broadly. We believe that the outcomes from this project will establish DYS, UMass Amherst, CES, and CAST as leaders in innovative instructional practices for 21stCentury juvenile corrections education.
“Project RAISE will provide our youth with access to engaging science curriculum that promotes essential skills for their future such as critical thinking and real world problem solving,” said Woody Clift, Director of DYS Education Initiative at CES. Because DYS students cannot participate in a traditional laboratory, Project RAISE will create virtual laboratory experiences and other project based activities that they can access with tablet computers and other technologies.
Clift said the need for a specially designed science curriculum is vital, as all students need to master science content, concepts and inquiry skills to prepare for careers in today’s highly technical workplace. Students involved in the juvenile justice system are particularly vulnerable to losing out on these skills because they frequently have much lower levels of academic preparation when they enter juvenile justice facilities. These young people are also at greater risk for dropping out of school, being unemployed, and reentering the justice system as youth or adults later on in life.
Clift said the new curriculum will be designed to account for a wide range of variability in student learning styles and levels, which will ensure that students with different academic experiences and from different language backgrounds will be able to access the content.
In addition, the curriculum will encourage students to use critical thinking skills to apply their knowledge and skills to real world problems that are relevant to their own lives.
The curriculum will be designed and developed over the next two years. As the sole provider of general and special education services to youth in DYS settings, CES will work with UMass Amherst and other Project RAISE partners to implement a pilot and evaluation of the curriculum in in DYS facilities across the state in 2017.
For more information about Project RAISE, please contact Michael Krezmien, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about CES’s educational programs at DYS, please visit: www.collaborative.org/programs/dys