BU Mathematicians, Local Groups Partner on $10 Million NSF Grant to Improve Math Education in Grades 5 to 12
"Focus on Mathematics" will fund local teacher-support programs, aims to set national model
(Boston, Mass.) ó Supported by a five-year, $10-million grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers at Boston University and the Newton, Mass.-based Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), will join with five local school districts to improve the teaching of mathematics in Massachusetts and, ultimately, throughout the nation. Strong on local involvement, the "Focus on Mathematics" partnership includes teachers in middle and high schools in five Massachusetts communities ó Arlington, Chelsea, Lawrence, Waltham, and Watertown.
The partnership will also serve as the springboard for a new masterís degree in mathematics teaching and study offered jointly by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education at Boston University.
Leading this effort are Glenn Stevens, a professor of mathematics in BUís Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Wayne Harvey, a vice president of EDC and director of its Division of Mathematics Learning and Teaching. EDC is a leading education research organization.
The partnership also will rely on expertise from educators and mathematicians from the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the Program Evaluation Research Group at Lesley University in Cambridge.
"Itís all too common that students who enjoyed mathematics in the early grades turn away from the subject in later grades," says Stevens. "This project offers students the opportunity to see teachers and mathematicians excited about doing mathematics and to join them in meaningful activities, such as problem-solving and research."
"The project also makes sure districts can foster those teachers with the highest potential for leadership and mathematical expertise," Stevens adds. "All teacher-support funds are in district hands. The school districts are in the driverís seat."
EDCís Harvey says, "Our ultimate goal is to substantially increase student achievement in mathematics. We want students to find math engaging and intellectually satisfying. We want to give them the kind of world-class mathematics that can only come from teachers who are part of a community of experts in mathematics, teaching, and learning."
Pivotal to the success of "Focus on Mathematics" is building a corps of teacherĖexperts who will be mathematical and pedagogical leaders in the teaching community. This will take form under two professional development initiatives being funded by the grant: the Mathematics Teaching Fellow (MTF) program and the Professional Development Portfolio.
The MTF program will immerse participants in mathematics and related coursework that will ready them for taking lead roles in professional-development activities for their colleagues. The MTF program will include coursework toward a certificate or toward the new master's in advanced study and teaching: mathematics, or MAST, degree.
The MAST degree will cover the 38-credit program required for earning the MTF certificate and will also include new and existing mathematics and education courses and an internship involving the design and implementation of a professional-development curriculum.
In exchange for the support they receive for these educational opportunities, MTFs will agree to remain with their respective schools for three years after completing their degrees. At their schools, MTFs will serve as on-site resources for teachers, advisors on pedagogy and assessment strategies, and liaisons to administrators on the selection of curricular materials. They will also work with consortium members to develop and run the in-service activities that will make up the Professional Development Portfolio.
Comprised of summer institutes, academic-year seminars, online courses, and four annual colloquia, the Professional Development Portfolio initiative will provide a more broadly based means by which the consortium will reach teachers in participating districts. By augmenting the professional resources provided by MTFs, consortium mathematicians will further the ties and the depth of community being built among "Focus on Mathematics" teachers.
EDC is one of the world's leading nonprofit education and health organizations, with projects in more than 40 countries. It brings researchers and practitioners together to advance learning and healthy development for individuals and institutions.
Established in 1918, Boston Universityís School of Education prepares classroom teachers and other education professionals for roles in schools, community and government agencies, and corporations. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at BU offers a strong research environment in algebra, applied statistics, dynamical systems and their applications, geometry, mathematical physics, number theory, partial differential equations, and probability. Boston University, the fourth-largest independent university in the nation, enrolls more than 29,000 students in its 17 schools and colleges.