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Academy of Math, Science Proposed in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts high-school teachers as well as students would be able to spend time at nearby postsecondary institutions to enrich their understanding of mathematics and science, under a proposal included in Gov. William F. Weld's 1993 budget.

The pilot project, proposed by Senators Arthur E. Chase and Matthew J. Amorello, would enable between 50 and 100 students per grade to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute beginning in September 1993. A smaller class would launch the program this fall.

If successful, three additional private-public partnerships for advanced math and science students would be established in other parts of the state.

What distinguishes the proposed Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science from similar programs in other states is the role classroom teachers would play. On a rotating basis, teachers from the surrounding area would be selected to teach at W.P.I. and take advanced math and science courses.

After three years, the teachers would return to their school districts, where they would be expected to work with other faculty members to help them upgrade their math and science teaching.

In addition, W.P.I. would be required to develop an outreach program to identify promising math and science students from economically disadvantaged households and provide them with tutors from among the institution's students.

Senator Chase said the cost is expected to be from $5,500 to $6,500 per student, about the same as average per-pupil spending statewide.

The state would pay the institution a flat per-student fee. In turn, the institution would pay the salaries of the classroom teachers.

Funding for the pilot program would come from a $500,000 line item in Governor Weld's budget proposal.

Student selection would depend on such criteria as past school performance and an entrance examination. Teachers, who would need the permission of their superintendents, would be selected by the institution.

While completing their junior and senior years in high school, the students could earn as much as a year's college credit simultaneously.

If the concept is successful, Senator Chase said, "there is no reason why the same kind of partnership could not be offered for [other] disciplines."
--K.D.

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