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Evolution of an Experiment


Founded in 1994, ASSET began as a pilot program which utilized the then National Science Resources Center's model for systemic education improvement and reform in two school districts in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. From 1995 to 1998, grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) fueled ASSET's growth to 30 school districts.

At this time, affordable, evidence-based learning materials were few and far between. ASSET developed a materials leasing program to provide educators with cost-effective access to these vital classroom tools. By partnering with programs like Smithsonian Science Education Center, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and Carolina Biological, ASSET leased evidence-based STEM learning modules to schools, districts, and educational organizations across Pennsylvania and beyond. ASSET transitioned to a fee-for-service model in 2001, providing educators with professional learning and leased STEM materials.


From 2006 to 2010, ASSET designed, managed, and implemented the statewide initiative ‘Science: It's Elementary' (SIE) in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Through this program, the organization scaled up to 180 districts across the state, impacting approximately 5,000 teachers and 185,000 students.


Building on the success of the SIE program, in 2010 ASSET was awarded a prestigious U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from 2010 to 2015 to validate its programmatic impacts in rural and high-needs schools. An independent program evaluation found that ASSET-supported teachers developed increased understanding of content and concepts, improved pedagogy, and strengthened collaboration with peer educators, advances that fostered increased student achievement in science, math, and reading/English Language Arts in high-needs schools (Nedley, 2016). These advances led to the inclusion of ASSET’s Elementary Program into WestEd’s STEMworks Database, a national collection of evidence-based programs that deepen young people's learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

From 2015 to 2018, ASSET implemented the Math Professional Development Initiative (MPDI), a robotics-assisted remote professional learning and coaching program to 40 educators and administrators across three schools in Grant County, New Mexico, impacting ~2,100 students.


From 2019 to 2022, ASSET was selected to participate in the Foundational Math Brain Trust at 100Kin10. ASSET also designed and implemented the mentoring components of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program at Duquesne University, which helps to prepare new teachers for the workforce. In 2021, ASSET was tapped to co-lead 100Kin10’s “Building Sustainable Business Models for Professional Development After COVID-19” working group.


In 2022, ASSET secured major foundation funding to support the expansion of its preservice educator development initiative, the Partnerships to Advance Learning in STEM (PALS) program, as well as to lead the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative’s Tutoring Workstream. Throughout the year, ASSET provided preservice educators with ongoing professional development and coaching. They, in turn, provided more than 1500 hours of virtual tutoring to more than 120 students in the Pittsburgh area.


Also in 2022, ASSET was invited to join 100Kin10's new initiative Beyond100k and was named a Supporting Champion for National Partnerships for Student Success, a White House initiative to advance tutoring and the educator pipeline. 

In 2023, ASSET secured funding from PA Department of Education for a PALS demonstration project, as well as a planning grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to explore PALS expansion with up to four schools of education. Later in the year, ASSET partnered with University of Houston as part of it's 5-year UH-ALL RISE initiative, funded by a $2.2M National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowship Program grant. The program aims to develop middle school teacher leaders and improve science education for emerging bilinguals in economically disadvantaged, culturally and linguistically diverse schools in Houston, Texas.

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