S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Legacy collection

In December 2020, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation concluded operations. Founded in 1957, the Foundation was committed to building a productive, vibrant, and sustainable California. In 2009, the Foundation decided to invest all of its assets, or spend down, by 2020 in order to spur significant progress on the challenging issues facing the state in education and environment. This collection features knowledge produced by the Foundation and its partners during its final decade of work. Read concluding reflections from the Foundation's president and learn more about its grantmaking.

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What Education Leaders Can Learn About NGSS Implementation: Highlights From the Early Implementers Initiative

November 1, 2020

From 2014 through 2020, eight diverse school districts and two charter management organizations ran a substantial experiment with ways of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in elementary and middle grades, called the California K - 8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative. The Initiative certainly illustrated that a big financial investment can produce powerful change. However, even districts facing resource challenges may benefit from the lessons that were learned and the strategies that were developed by the Initiative.An external evaluation team has previously released a series of reports on what can be learned from the efforts of the Initiative districts. All reports are intended to be helpful to administrators at the school and district levels, education policymakers, and people charged with designing and/or delivering science professional learning. After briefly describing how the NGSS call for big shifts in science teaching and learning, this highlights report shares high-level, major learnings from the evaluation, distilled into only a couple dozen pages of main narrative. The report describes NGSS instruction as a powerful lever for equitable learning, explains how the Initiative made this kind of instruction happen, and describes the importance of the Initiative's ambitious professional learning for administrators.

STEM - Science

NGSS in the Classroom: What Early Implementer Science Instruction Looks Like

September 1, 2020

This 13th report in WestEd's evaluation of the K-8 Early Implementers Initiative for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provides an extensive response to the following question: What does NGSS teaching look like in the classroom? The report also briefly describes specific ways that teachers have advanced in their NGSS teaching over the years of the Initiative and how the Initiative prepared them for such teaching.The report draws most strongly from more than 50 classroom observations of, and interviews with, 24 teachers across six districts. It is also informed by multiple interviews with each district Project Director as well as results of an annual survey with high response rates from more than 500 K-8 science teachers.

STEM - Science

The Future of California Science (Short Version)

August 3, 2020

In this brief video, California leaders describe the unprecedented collaboration that is driving implementation of the CA Next Generation Science Standards.

STEM - Science

Next Generation Science Standards: Learning from Early Implementers

August 3, 2020

In this brief video, teachers and administrators share their experiences and explain how the new science standards are transforming education in California classrooms.

STEM - Science

Six Years of Scaling Up: Districtwide Implementations of the Next Generation Science Standards

August 1, 2020

Many educational initiatives are funded for only a couple of years. The California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative spanned an extraordinary six years, during which eight school districts worked toward districtwide implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which call for teachers to transform their instructional practice. This 12th report in our evaluation series for policymakers, school and district administrators, and professional learning specialists describes the Initiative's scale-up in its later years to reach all K-8 science teachers. Specifically, the report addresses the following questions:In contrast to focusing in Years 1-4 on developing Teacher Leaders, what strategies did districts use in Years 5-6 to reach all other K-8 teachers of science (called "expansion teachers" in this report)?What impacts has the Initiative had on expansion teachers?Which professional learning strategies have been most and least effective for influencing the practice of expansion teachers?What special attention was paid to providing administrators with professional learning to prompt their support of NGSS implementation?

STEM - Science

The Future of California Science (Full Version)

July 10, 2020

In this short video, California leaders describe the unprecedented collaboration that is driving implementation of the CA Next Generation Science Standards.

STEM - Science

NGSS Early Implementers: Bringing Science to Life as a Core Subject

July 1, 2020

With its long-standing commitment to STEM education, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation viewed California's 2013 adoption of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as an excellent opportunity to support educators and their students as they transition to these rigorous and engaging standards. This opportunity aligned with the Foundation's overarching emphasis on supporting adult leaders as the most effective way to achieve our goal of providing students with high-quality STEM education.The Foundation launched the six-year NGSS Early Implementers Initiative in 2014. It supports eight diverse California school districts committed to implementing NGSS in their K-8 schools. All districts are incorporating the state's preferred integrated course model for science instruction in middle school. The K-12 Alliance at WestEd, a highly respected provider of professional learning and technical assistance services to school districts, leads the Initiative. Two charter management organizations also participate through funding provided by other sources.The broad goal of the Initiative is to successfully support initial implementation of the science standards in a set of districts to inform state-level decisions and set the stage for statewide implementation. The experiences of the Early Implementers, as well as the tools developed through the Initiative process, are expected to make it easier for other California districts as they implement NGSS. A separate arm of WestEd documents the Early Implementers' approaches, successes, and lessons learned in a series of evaluation reports. The Foundation has invested approximately $25 million in service of this goal.

STEM - Science

The Future of California Science: A Story of Leadership, Collaboration, and Legacy

July 1, 2020

As leaders of the teams that implemented and evaluated a six-year statewide effort known as the California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative, the coauthors of this paper have had a front-row seat for implementation of the California NGSS since their adoption in 2013. Coauthor Kathy DiRanna was also strongly involved in the new collaborations formed among science organizations that will be described in this piece. We document this story to attempt to capture the spirit and strategies behind the remarkable collaboration that is bringing forward a new era in state science education practice. We hope this account informs and encourages educational leaders, policymakers, funders, and all who are doing the hard but crucial work of advancing the NGSS and the Common Core.

STEM - Science

It’s About TIME: A Rigorous New Process for Selecting Instructional Materials for Science

June 1, 2020

California counties and school districts are implementing a critically needed change in how they evaluate science instructional materials before investing in local adoption. Past adoptions were often too superficial in nature, focusing on candidate materials' overall look and feel, use of graphical elements, and availability of ancillary materials while insufficiently attending to the substance of the materials for high-quality teaching and learning. In contrast, the California NGSS Toolkit for Instructional Materials Evaluation (hereafter referred to as TIME) process enables participants to use evidence-based measures to choose materials aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that meet their district's needs.This 11th report in the NGSS Early Implementers Initiative evaluation series is intended for school and district administrators, leaders of science professional learning, and state policymakers. It provides an overview of the full TIME process, including participants' perceptions, a detailed description of the statewide TIME trainings of 2018-19, and a vignette that illustrates a portion of the TIME process.

STEM - Science

Education Program Snapshot: Science Portfolio

April 1, 2020

Recognizing teachers as the single most important contributor to student achievement, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation invests in high-quality models of science teaching and learning in California's K-8 classrooms through full implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation envisions children and youth developing the knowledge, skills, and character to explore and understand the world around them, growing into caring, informed, and productive adults. This snapshot, prepared as the Foundation nears conclusion in 2020, documents essential aspects of the Education Program's science portfolio.

STEM - Science

Learning in Context: Reflections on the Education Team’s Approach to Evaluation

April 1, 2020

The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, a spend-down foundation sunsetting in 2020, invested in four major education initiatives during its final decade of grantmaking. A firm believer in the importance of building and sharing knowledge, the Foundation also made significant, complementary investments in evaluation that were intended to help grantee partners improve their work and to capture lessons learned that funders, nonprofits, policymakers, and other education actors might benefit from. This essay offers a high-level comparison of the evaluation approach taken in each initiative and shares reflections on why we took the paths we did.

Character; Evaluation Practice; STEM - Math; STEM - Science; STEM - Teacher Preparation

Illustrating Improvement: Noteworthy Practices to Inform California’s Math and Science Standards Implementation

December 1, 2019

Since 2015, WestEd has provided research capabilities, technical assistance, and evaluation support for the California Partnership for Math and Science Education (the Partnership), a statewide initiative designed to increase access to high-quality math and science teaching and learning.Through this ongoing work, WestEd has worked with the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), the California Department of Education (CDE), and the California State Board of Education (SBE), to run communities of practices for regional teams of educators since 2016. Additionally, regional teams have received two rounds of grant funding to plan and pilot standards implementation initiatives.These innovative micro-grants were designed to test the idea that local innovation could be stimulated with relatively modest investments. They offered teams an opportunity to collaborate deeply on regional and county needs related to standards implementation, fashion projects in response to local challenges, and continue to learn from and incorporate their learning to improve and sustain their efforts beyond the grant funding period.This report shares information about select initiatives' current progress and strategies in order to create an opportunity for ongoing conversations about useful practices to support standards implementation. Specifically, the report focuses on a selection of noteworthy practices and tools crafted by project teams as they planned for and began to implement their second-year plans supported by the Partnership's improvement grants.

STEM - Math; STEM - Science

About this collection:   Presidents reflections | Intellectual property