The i3 LASER Program was a five-year research study to assess the impact of the Leadership Assistance in Systemic Science Education Reform (LASER) Model on student achievement in science among 75,000 urban and rural students in grades 1 – 8 in North Carolina, Houston (Texas) and northern New Mexico. The U.S. Department of Education awarded an Investing in Innovation (i3) research grant to the Smithsonian Science Education Center (formerly known as the National Science Resource Center) to coordinate the program nationally. The SMT Center was the North Carolina regional partner supporting the project. By the conclusion of the study, over 1,000 teachers and 25,000 students were impacted in North Carolina.
Major components of i3 LASER included (1) a research-based curriculum; (2) materials support for accompanying science kits; (3) differentiated teacher professional development for effective learning and teaching of the curriculum; (4) strategic planning and leadership development and (5) ongoing community collaboration with business, government leaders and parent organizations. Forty-six schools in seven school districts in North Carolina were involved in the study. The schools were randomly selected to participate in either Phase One (initial treatment) or Phase Two (delayed treatment). Phase One schools received three inquiry-based Science and Technology Concepts (STC®) science units along with over 90 hours of professional development supporting the effective instruction of the kit. Phase Two schools received a Science and Technology Concepts (STC®) science unit with the accompanying professional development.