District in Florida Gets $554,715 To Expand Math-Specialist Cadre

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The Exxon Education Foundation has awarded more than half a million dollars to the Orange County, Fla., public schools to help train K-3 teachers to become mathematics specialists.

The four-year $554,715 grant was awarded late last month as part of an ongoing effort by the philanthropic arm of the New York-based oil company to support a variety of strategies designed to improve math education.

The money will be used to expand an existing program to help place math specialists in each of the district's 83 elementary schools, according to district officials.

Teachers who agree to take part in the training program will participate in a three-year effort to instill math concepts and proficiency in the early grades.

They will also assume extra duties in addition to their normal workload and will be expected to act as mentors to their colleagues.

Math specialists, for example, help colleagues plan and implement new teaching strategies and learn techniques that emphasize problem-solving, cooperative learning, the use of educational technology, and a "hands on" approach to teaching math.

The goals of the math-specialist program are designed to closely conform to the teaching standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Iris Carl, the N.c.T.M.'s president, said the Orange County program is expected to become "a national model for primary-grade mathematics."

The county's K-3 math-specialist program is a cooperative effort of the district's teachers, principals, and administrators, together with faculty members of the University of Central Florida.

Under the program, teachers receive intensive training to improve their math skills and teaching abilities, while administrators conduct classroom visits to help them implement new teaching strategies.

The district, with the assistance of the university, will evaluate the program.

The university also will collaborate with the district to develop internships in the math specialists' classrooms for students pursuing teaching degrees.

The latest grant is part of a larger giving strategy by the Exxon foundation, which has committed $7.3 million over the past decade to improving pre-collegiate math education. --P.W.

Vol. 11, Issue 05, Page 8

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