Partnership grants to strengthen mathematics and science teaching

MADISON — About 580 mathematics and science teachers across the state are gaining knowledge and skills to increase student achievement through federal Mathematics and Science Partnership grants administered by the Department of Public Instruction.

The 2013-14 grant award to Wisconsin partnerships was $1.76 million in three categories: new competitive grants to three partnerships; second-year continuing grants to four partnerships; and third year renewal grants to two partnerships. New grants are the:

• Adams-Friendship Mathematics Partnership (Marian University, Fond du Lac) — $145,865,

• Cudahy Mathematics Partnership (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) — $192,596, and

• Weston Science Partnership (University of Wisconsin-Platteville) — $112,209.

Each partnership focuses on a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline and includes a college or university giving districts and arts and science faculty joint responsibility for improving mathematics and science instruction.

All projects provide intensive staff development to help teachers deepen their content knowledge and sharpen teaching skills to reach all students.

Activities include summer institutes that directly relate to STEM disciplines to enhance teachers’ ability to understand and use Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

“The strength and quality of the teacher in the classroom is the most important factor in children’s learning,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.

“These partnership grants provide the training and support teachers need to implement college and career-ready standards that will prepare our students for success in the globally competitive economy.”

Projects are based on a needs assessment and include a strong evaluation component.

The Wausau partnership, which is entering its second year, will develop 10 learning plans annually aligned to the college and career-ready standards. In the Rice Lake partnership, “Math Transition into the Common Core Era,” project goals support a network to integrate Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and to establish effective ways to evaluate whether students are mastering these higher standards.

To be eligible for a grant the lead school district had to have at least 10 percent of students from low-income families; have a Rural Education Achievement Program or be a small, rural school district; or have student mathematics or science achievement that is less than 65 percent proficient based on 2011-12 statewide test score data.

Funding for the Mathematics and Science Partnership grants is part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title II, Improving Teacher Quality Grant Program.

These programs encourage scientifically based professional development as a means for improving student academic performance.