About the ISI

K-8 inquiry-based Science Education

(view a short video here)


Figure 1 represents the five areas of the reform plan that are being introduced to school districts in your region.

Figure 1 represents the five areas of the reform plan that are being introduced to school districts in your region.

In 2008, working with the National Science Resource Center (NSRC), Indiana Life Science partners formed the Indiana Strategic Planning Committee for Science Education and developed a plan for science education reform. The model  is based on research supporting the benefits of inquiry-based instruction, which allows students to explore and problem solve to develop deep knowledge and understanding of concepts, not just in science but every academic subject. In the classroom, students are engaged and excited as they work on science explorations independently and in collaboration with their peers.

In February 2010, a summit was held at Eli Lilly and Company to kick off the reform effort in Indiana and to introduce Indiana’s plan for implementation in school districts across the state. Regional meetings have taken place and committees have formed to establish the pilot program in their school districts. Each region is reaching out to their stakeholders to become advocates for the reform. It is important to engage all areas of the spectrum so that the plan is successful in all regions.

Indiana’s Science Education Strategic Plan partners include: Indiana Department of Education (I-DOE), Indiana Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (I-STEM) Resource Network, BioCrossroads and Eli Lilly and Company. To join in the effort and to learn more about how you can become an advocate, visit dev.indianascience.org.

Fast Facts

  • Any accredited public or private school may participate in the program – you do not need to be a member of an Educational Service Center (ESC).
  • Schools adopt this material as part of their curricular materials adoption process.
  • Summer Professional Development opportunities are provided so that teachers can successfully implement these materials.


  • Students using ISI curriculum with well-trained teachers do better on ISTEP+ Science tests.
  • Additionally, these students also do better on ISTEP+ Mathematics and English Language Arts tests.
  • For more details, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the current state of student achievement in science and how do we measure that in Indiana?
    Student achievement in science is measured by ISTEP+ at the end of 4th and the end of 6th grade and in the future with the ISTEP+ Grade 10 Science Assessment. The 4th grade assessment has been in place since 2003 and the 6th grade assessment has been in place since 2005 (prior to 2009 the 4th grade ISTEP+ was given at the beginning of 5th grade and the 6th grade ISTEP+ was given at the beginning of 7th grade). During that time, in general science achievement has remained flat with an average % passing of 63% for grade 4 and 55% for grade 6 for all demographics.
  • Is there evidence that this initiative will improve science, math and E/LA scores?
    Yes. We are working with national experts using a model that has been successful in school districts and in other states and are continuously collecting data on student performance.  For more details, click here.
  • If schools want to participate in the program, what is their commitment?
    There will be a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the school district and I-STEM. Schools pay an upfront fee based on the number of sections at each grade level and an annual per student fee.
  • How do we measure the success of the research-developed curricular materials? We use Indiana’s student growth model, attendance rates, formative and summative assessments (I-STEP+, publisher end of course review, etc.) to evaluate the program’s success.
  • What are the responsibilities of principals and school leaders?
    Principals should complete professional development prior to their school receiving the curricular materials. It is imperative that all school leaders support the initiative and understand the implementation of research-developed science instruction. Administrators are also responsible for making sure kits are returned on-time.
  • Will a school have enough money to fund the adoption of research-developed curricular materials during the first year even though they don’t have 6 years of textbook money?
    Yes. This will work similar to the current process with textbook fees. Money will be paid back over the 6-year period.
  • How will the curricular material rotation work with quarterly Acuity testing? Acuity testing can be tailored to the content of your curriculum as you are teaching. Please see the evaluation section of the website for more information.