N.S.F. Awards $75 Million for ‘Systemic’ Reforms

By Peter West — May 22, 1991 3 min read

Washington--The National Science Foundation will award $75 million in grants to 10 states to promote a “systemic reform” of mathematics and science education programs, in what officials called the agency’s largest awards to individual states.

Walter Massey, the n.s.f.'s director, said the Statewide Systemic Initiative is a comprehensive effort to foster “specific activities to help the states” meet the national education goals.

Past nsf efforts have supported such individual activities as curriculum development and teacher training, he said, but “what has not happened is a conscious attempt to bring all of these programs together.”

Also in contrast to previous pro4grams, the new initiative “has a very high degree of participation from the key leaders and institutions involved in education in these states, from governors to the community leaders and parents,” Dr. Massey said.

Unlike most n.s.f. grants, those made under the new initiative will include a cooperative agreement with each state, permitting the foundation “to provide substantial technical and management advice in the development and implementation of the projects.”

The initial round of grants attracted proposals from 30 states. States that did not win grants this year will be invited to attend a conference this summer where planning assistance will be provided s competition.

Program Descriptions

The grants, announced at a press conference here last week, were awarded to:

The Connecticut State Department of Education, $7.9 million.

The state plans to establish a Connecticut Academy for Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; foster district-level reform, particularly in low-income areas; restructure postsecondary teacher-education programs; and launch a public-relations campaign to promote an understanding of the importance of math and science.

The Delaware Department of Public Instruction, $4.9 million.

The department will fund Project 21, a statewide venture to foster development of a “culture” of math and science appreciation in schools, to revamp pedagogy, and to develop new assessment instruments.

The Florida Department of Education, $7.9 million.

The department plans to restructure its K-8 curriculum around an environmental theme; to restructure elementary- and middle-school teacher-preparation programs; and to develop public support for the changes through interactive communications systems.

The Louisiana Board of Regents, $10 million.

The board plans to reform pre-service curricula for math and science teachers to reflect the national education goals and standards adopted by various education groups; to expand and improve the use of educational technologies; and to recruit professionals to help make students aware of careers in math and science.

The Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics, $9.9 million.

The council plans to develop an integrated mathematics curriculum for grades 9-12; to increase the numbers of girls and Native Americans in science and math programs; and to establish new certification and recertification standards for teachers.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, $4.5 million.

The university hopes to improve math education by implementing the standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; revise the elementary-school math curriculum; and increase the math requirements for the certification of elementary teachers.

It also will attempt to improve education for rural children through a distance-learning project.

The North Carolina Science and Mathematics Alliance, $7.8 million.

The alliance plans to establish 10 regional partnerships of public schools, businesses, and higher education to “transform” math and science education at the local level.

The Ohio Board of Regents, $10 million.

The board will develop a framework for pre-service education and in-service training of middle-school and junior-high school math and science teachers through a system of 10 regional research centers.

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, $9.3 million.

The department plans to establish state-level leadership teams, a cadre of math and science specialists at five sites across the state, and building-level teams of specialist teachers at every school to improve instruction.

The South Dakota Board of Regents, $7.5 million.

The board plans to form a statewide group that will establish a system of goals and standards for instruction based on existing standards of national science and math education groups. New assessment methods also will be tested and implemented.

All grantees have pledged to supplement the awards with funds from their states, from the private sector, and other sources.

A version of this article appeared in the May 22, 1991 edition of Education Week as N.S.F. Awards $75 Million for ‘Systemic’ Reforms