Research & Centers

Harlem Schools Partnership

The Harlem Schools Partnership (HSP) for STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a collaborative effort of Teachers College (TC), and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Columbia University in association with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and with support from the General Electric Foundation.

The mission of the HSP is to improve STEM education by helping schools create rich environments for STEM teaching and learning. We accomplish this through professional development that strengthens curriculum, increases teacher knowledge of STEM content and teaching practices, diversifies assessment of student learning, and ensures that English Language Learners are successful in STEM. The intended outcome is that HSP schools will be models of excellence for STEM teaching and learning, and that participating teachers will become leaders and mentors for others at their schools and in the Department of Education.

Urban Science Education Center


All urban students ought to have equitable and just opportunities to develop the kinds of literacies (knowledges, skills, ways of knowing, and discursive practices) necessary to make informed decisions about the science, mathematics, and technology related matters that they encounter in their daily lives.

The Center will pursue four areas of research and development and the interconnections among them.


Developing deep understandings of empowering practices in K-12 SMT education, especially for students from linguistic and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and students living in poverty.
This research and development is needed to answer key questions such as, How might our current understandings of best practice be challenged by what we know about the lived experiences of urban learners? What kinds of curricular and pedagogies strategies best serve urban learners? How can we improve the school-based achievement of all students in science? The Center use two lines of strategies for developing these key understandings: research on teaching and learning in school-based settings, and research on youth and family lives in school and community-based settings.

Preservice teacher education and the preparation and on-going professional development of SMT teachers in urban school systems.

How can we better prepare our preservice teachers to productively confront the needs of urban students and to navigate the complex urban school system? How can scientists and educators better work together to prepare outstanding K-12 SMT teachers? How might preservice and inservice teacher educators work together more closely such that teacher professional growth and development over time is enhanced?

Understanding and actualizing relationships between urban communities, schools, and universities.

Urban communities are diverse and deal with multiple and complex challenges. With the current reform initiative's thrust of science for all, building links between communities and schools is of particular importance in terms of parental involvement, understanding and preparing families to better respond to the growing demands of an increasingly scientific and technological society (especially when such knowledge and resources are often distributed in inequitable ways).

Equity and Policy

Driving all of our efforts in urban science education should be a commitment to provide a just and equitable education for all students. The equity issues surrounding science education in urban settings are urgent and varied. Urban schools that serve poor populations are understaffed, have few certified math and science teachers and offer few math and science resources. Urban students take longer to graduate, generally score lower on high stakes exams, and drop out of schools at high rates. The solutions to the challenges are not to implement even more high stakes exams and hold students accountable for the failings of society as many cities and states have attempted to do. Rather the solutions reside in documenting, critically analyzing, and acting upon-indeed, changing-the discriminatory practices supported by urban schooling and society.

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