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While the United States’ National Research Council (NRC 2012) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS 2013) advocate children’s engagement in active science learning, elementary school teachers in the US indicate lack of time to teach science regularly because of (1) school and district pressure to focus on English language arts and mathematics assessment scores in response to the country’s No Child Left Behind (2001) mandates; (2) a lack of preparation in teacher science content knowledge; and (3) a lack of science professional development opportunities. In response to these needs and focusing on the primary (Kindergarten–first–second) grade levels, the Project SMART professional development program was created and implemented over three school years in one high-poverty California school district comprised of diverse students, including 62 % English language learners. This qualitative report explores primary grades teachers’ experiences in the professional development program, providing teacher descriptions of impact on student learning and motivation as well as collegial trust gained through on-going collaboration with university faculty, district professional development facilitators, and among their school/district peers.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Early Childhood Education Journal, volume 43, issue 4, in 2014 following peer review. The final publication is available at Springer via DOI: 10.1007/s10643-014-0656-3.

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