A national curriculum for secondary agricultural education has spread to 655 teachers in 32 states since it started five years ago, and officials hope to continue that kind of growth.
The Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education, a project of the National Council for Agricultural Education, intended to elevate both the rigor and relevance of agricultural education. CASE is more than a curriculum; it involves professional development and change in teacher practice. CASE offers assessment and certification support for teachers, and lessons are taught using activity-, project-, and problem-based instructional strategies.
Dan Jansen, the CASE project director, said few urban schools use CASE. Many don’t offer agricultural education and adding new programs are tough, he said. Extreme rural schools make up a large portion of its CASE teachers, and 95 percent of CASE programs are in schools with a long history of agricultural education, he said.
The start-up costs range between $3,000 and $15,000, depending on what materials schools already have. Lessons were designed with traditional agricultural programs in mind, so schools often have many needed supplies while others could be borrowed from science labs, he said.
“Costs for materials to implement CASE is another barrier for programs and we’re trying to find corporate help to match funding for equipment,” he said.
Jansen is trying to secure funding for research to evaluate its model.
“I have some self-reported data regarding test scores that show CASE students outperformed general population students on science testing, but nothing published yet,” he said. “We know it is working tremendously well and most all teachers will report this, but we have no scientific evidence to back our claims.”
The CASE curriculum isn’t for sale, so the only way teachers can have it is by attending a CASE Institute training session. Twenty sites will host 29 CASE Institutes this summer, and more information is available online.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.