In June 2006, the Ohio schools awarded more than $4 million in competitive grants to school districts across the state. The grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program, and authorized by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The MSP grants, which are funded throughout the 2006-2007 school year, will give 1,800 teachers in high-need schools in Ohio the opportunity to increase their knowledge of mathematics and science. If MSP funding remains at current levels, the schools grants will be renewable through June 2009, ensuring professional development for as many teachers as possible.
The program partners colleges and universities with high-need school districts to provide the needed training. Their faculty members also will work with teachers to study techniques for implementing the recent Mathematics and Science Academic Content Standard within their students’ coursework. Most Ohio teachers were trained and certified to teach curriculum that focused primarily on arithmetic. Today’s student begins learning algebra, geometry, measurement and the basic concepts of data analysis in the very early grades levels.
The need, according to Susan Rave Zelman, superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio, is simple — strong mathematics and science skills are necessary for today’s students to compete effectively in tomorrow’s workforce. Teachers’ own skills and knowledge must be expanded upon in order to provide the students with an effective curriculum in these crucial subjects.
The Ohio schools received 24 proposals for the grants. The ten grants will address either mathematics development, science development, or a combination of both. The grants encompass partnerships between 15 college/universities and more than 100 high-need school districts within the Ohio schools.
Other Mathematics and Science Partnerships within the Ohio schools include The Mathematics Coaches Project, K-3 Mathematics: The Early Foundation, Middle Grade Mathematics: The Critical Bridge, and the Topics Foundational to Calculus.
The Mathematics Coaches Project. In partnership with Ohio University, mathematics faculty members train kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers to become coaches. They then coach other elementary teachers in high-need Ohio campuses, where student mathematics performance is low and the school is at-risk.
K-3 Mathematics: The Early Foundation. This program helps kindergarten through third-grade teachers obtain a deeper understanding of early-grade mathematics skills. Additionally, they are taught to use inquiry and concrete experiences of the children within their teaching.
Middle Grade Mathematics: The Critical Bridge. The Middle Grade Math program prepares Ohio schools fourth through eighth-grade teachers to help their students grasp the increasingly complex principles of mathematics. The program includes expanding the teachers’ knowledge and instructional approach.
Topics Foundational to Calculus. For eighth through twelfth-grade mathematics teachers, this program highlights the essential foundations of algebra, geometry and trigonometry for preparing students for calculus coursework.
Unlike previous statewide teacher development programs, the new Ohio schools initiatives emphasize sustained partnerships at the local level. They increase the training time frame to at least 80 hours in the first year and 40 hours in the second year. Programs now include measurements to determine changes in Ohio schools teachers’ content knowledge, instructional practices, and their effect upon student achievement.