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Equity Project Found To Boost Teachers' Attitudes

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WASHINGTON--Teachers and counselors who attended institutes sponsored by the College Board this past year came away more confident that their minority students can do well in mathematics and science and eventually go to college, according to a study released here last week.

The study also showed that an experimental algebra curriculum being pilot tested in Fort Worth has boosted minority enrollment in mathematics courses in the Texas district.

The College Board's Equity 2000 project "has helped to reaffirm the belief that all students can learn with the proper system of support, and has begun to provide the kinds of training to insure that all students are adequately prepared to enroll and succeed in the crucial mathematics gatekeeper courses,'' Donald M. Stewart, the board's president, said in a statement announcing the study's findings.

Six Test Sites

The project, which the College Board hopes will become a national model, is designed to increase minority participation in higher education. It is based in six metropolitan areas with large minority populations--Fort Worth; Milwaukee; Nashville; San Jose, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; and Prince George's County, Md.

Over the past year, teachers and counselors from the six sites attended institutes and workshops. This coming school year the districts involved will begin requiring 9th and 10th graders to take algebra and geometry.

The goal of the teacher institutes was to help teachers define academic outcomes, to improve their teaching techniques, and to advise them on how to help minority students overcome anxieties about math and science.

Institutes for counselors were designed to help them motivate students to work hard and set their sights on college.

In a related development, the College Board also announced last week that the National Science Foundation has awarded it $4.2 million to fund a three-year teacher-training program associated with Equity 2000.

Effect of Institutes

The study, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based firm Pelavin Associates, found that after attending the institutes:

  • The percentages of teachers and counselors who believe that their minority students can pass algebra increased from 36 percent to 64 percent, and from 45 percent to 86 percent, respectively.
  • The percentages of teachers and counselors who think their students can pass geometry rose from 32 percent to 59 percent, and from 25 percent to 72 percent, respectively.
  • The percentage of middle- and high-school teachers who feel their minority students will be able to enter college increased from 58 percent to 67 percent.
  • The percentage of middle-school guidance counselors who think their minority students have college potential increased from 79 percent to 89 percent.

The study also found that more minority students in the Fort Worth Independent School District took mathematics courses after the district adopted a curriculum called Algebridge that was developed by the College Board and the Educational Testing Service.

The Fort Worth district pilot tested the curriculum during the 1990-91 school year. (See Education Week, June 12, 1991.)

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