• professional development;
  • equitable instruction;
  • student science achievement


This study focuses on a professional development program for science teachers near or on American Indian reservations in Montana. This program was framed by culturally relevant pedagogy premises and was characterized by instructional strategies and content foci resulting from the intersection between three cultures: tribal, science teaching, and science. The study employs a quasi-experimental design and quantitative methods to examine the impact of the program on teachers' practice and beliefs, and to determine the relationship between student-centered equity-focused instruction and students' science test score gains. Results of the analyses indicate that after 2 years in the program teachers changed their teaching practices and beliefs about their ability to teach science and to implement equitable instruction in a way that positively impacted students' performance. Using a multiple regression analysis it was found that gains in teacher beliefs about their ability to implement equitable strategies and the increase of teaching strategies that prompt students to make connections between science and their real-life issues significantly explained the 36.7% of the variance of student science test scores gains in treatment classrooms. No significant changes in beliefs or teaching strategies were found for comparison teachers. The results obtained from this study contribute to the identification of characteristics of a professional development program that positively impacted the science teaching of American Indian students. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 50:12–32, 2013