Hello from Chicago! I’m in the Windy City this week at a US Department of Education Regional Conference focused on the Math-Science Partnership (MSP) Grants that come from USDOE to each state education agency as Title-IIb grants. The language on ed.gov reads:
“This program is designed to improve the content knowledge of teachers and the performance of students in the areas of mathematics and science by encouraging states, Institutions of Higher Education (IHE), Local Education Agencies (LEA), and elementary and secondary schools to participate in programs that:
Improve and upgrade the status and stature of mathematics and science teaching by encouraging IHEs to improve mathematics and science teacher education;
- Improve and upgrade the status and stature of mathematics and science teaching by encouraging IHEs to improve mathematics and science teacher education;
- Focus on the education of mathematics and science teachers as a career-long process;
- Bring mathematics and science teachers together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to improve their teaching skills; and
- Provide summer institutes and ongoing professional development for teachers to improve their knowledge and teaching skills.
The Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program is intended to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science by enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers. Partnerships between high-need school districts and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty in institutions of higher education are at the core of these improvement efforts. Other partners may include state education agencies, public charter schools or other public schools, businesses, and nonprofit or for-profit organizations concerned with mathematics and science education.”
Some states award grants for three years, others award them year by year. I’m in a state that awards yearly and this is the 5th grant I’ve directed or co-directed over the past 6 years (sometimes it’s good to be a high-need school district). This summer our project is focused on middle school math and science and our higher ed partner is the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering and their engineering researchers. Two previous projects focused on elementary science in partnership with the OU research scientists and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the other two awards were a partnership with St. Gregory’s University and focused on the use of Lesson Study to improve teacher content knowledge and curriculum development.
I bring this up because now is the time when you should be looking for partners and kicking around ideas about ways you can increase teacher effectiveness and student achievement. The average MSP grant serves 44 teachers a year, brings about 120 hours of inservice to them in the span of one year, and utilizes about $240,000. The data on subsequent student achievement is just now coming in, but it looks like the programs are performing as advertised. Do you work in a high need LEA? If you don’t, do you have one in your area who might take the lead role in a partnership? Know someone in the department of science (or math) in a local college or university who might be interested in improving the local teacher quality and thus the abilities of their incoming freshmen students? This is just one of many funding streams that will enable us to meet the challenge of the job we’ve been called to do. To borrow from Red Green, I’m pullin’ for ya, we’re all in this together.