Twenty-four projects will be receiving $240 million in federal grants to support efforts to raise student performance and the quality of teaching in the nation’s math and science classrooms.
The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education last week named the winners in new grant competitions. The grants will underwrite collaborations involving universities or nonprofit organizations and K-12 schools.
The projects will take on various tasks, such as recruiting high- quality teachers, providing professional development to current teachers, improving textbook material, and encouraging students to take challenging coursework. The projects will receive their money over the course of the next five years.
“These partnerships will become part of a broad national network of interconnected sites that will share successful instructional strategies, entice and train competent science and math teachers, and improve learning for millions of students,” said Rita Colwell, the NSF’s director.
A New Approach
The NSF’s Math and Science Partnership Program is the centerpiece of the independent federal agency’s new approach to improving math and science education. In the 1990s, the NSF made major grants to states, urban districts, and rural districts to help them develop comprehensive projects to raise student achievement in math and science.
The new strategy will provide funding for universities and nonprofits to work alongside K-12 districts to address specific needs in mathematics and science classrooms. (“NSF Plots New Education Strategy,” Nov. 7, 2001.)
For example, in the grants announced last week, the University of California, Irvine, will receive $14.2 million to work with three Southern California school districts with high enrollments of minority students and English-language learners. Scientists from the university will work closely in the Compton, Santa Ana, and Newport-Mesa school districts to build professional-development programs for teachers and improve the quality of the curricula.
Similar projects are planned for schools in Baltimore, rural Kentucky, in and around El Paso, Texas, and in some New Jersey cities.
Another project will help the school districts serving Los Angeles, Denver, Providence, R.I., and Madison, Wis., and several teacher-preparation programs, to improve the quality of new teachers entering math and science classrooms.
The NSF also made $5.5 million in grants to 12 projects to evaluate the effectiveness of math and science programs and help schools implement effective programs.
The NSF will pay the lion’s share of the new grants.
However, the Education Department will contribute $12.5 million to underwrite two portions of statewide projects in Vermont and North Carolina. Both projects will include major universities, state education departments, and a cross section of school districts to seek comprehensive strategies to raise student achievement in math and science.
The Education Department funds are from a new program started as part of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. That program supports statewide math and science efforts.