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RETA Workshops

AAAS Think Tank Meeting - September 2006

Funded by the National Science Foundation
September 26-27, 2006
Prepared by
Madeleine J. Long, PI, ABC


The AAAS held a small invitational meeting on September 26-27, 2006 to address issues related to reform of institutions of higher education (IHE) and IHE relationships with PreK-12 systems. The meeting was supported by funds from the Assistance for Building Capacity (ABC) project, a AAAS grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF), Research, Evaluation, and Technical Assistance (RETA) program.  Attendees included ABC Think Tank members, Principal Investigators and other representatives from selected MSP Projects, staff from the NSF and the US Department of Education (USED), and AAAS. (See Appendix 1)  We hope that this brief summary is useful to meeting participants, other MSPs, and funding agencies.

MSP PIs were asked to provide three items that would be addressed at the meeting: a one-page project abstract, a brief description of significant successes, lessons learned, unmet needs, and remaining questions, and a bibliography of useful research articles and books. (See Appendix 2, Abstracts)  At the meeting each participant received copies of all items and each MSP project presented a project description/analyses. Areas of focus that emerged from a pre-conference analysis of the items included: changes in the education of teachers; realistic IHE faculty roles in PreK-12 education; understanding and penetrating university cultures; cooperation among IHEs and school districts; moving projects to scale; institutionalizing; and what it means to do research-based reform. A series of questions were developed, again from participant responses and ABC staff experiences with particular MSP projects, that were addressed in the small group meetings held on the afternoon of September 28th. (See Appendix 3.)

The Meeting goals were derived from material submitted by the conference participants and original ABC goals. The goals included: (1) unpacking the meaning of successful partnerships and other collaborations across academic departments and colleges, and between K-12 and IHE communities; (2) gaining greater insights into the processes of systems reform; (3) understanding culture change and capacity building in IHEs; (4) identifying areas of research that support and embolden reform efforts; and (5) providing information and suggestions to NSF and other organizations engaged in supporting K-16 reform.

The day and a half meeting (Appendix 4) was characterized by a fast-paced and thoughtful exchange of ideas which frequently challenged the status quo and those conditions which have begun to “settle in” and, consequently, suffer insufficient analysis and probing.  At the start, MSP PI presentations provided a similar surround for all participants and a hospitable environment from which to move from “what is” to “what ought to be.”  All participants were challenged to confront issues related to what it is reasonable to expect IHE faculty to contribute to the broad scope of PreK-12 education,  Likewise, all participants were asked to examine critical  programs and approaches in terms of what works, where, why, under what conditions, and in terms of particular limitations.

The absence of IHE systems for the collection and retrieval of critical data was noted throughout the meeting, as was the importance of policies to support and sustain practices.  An interesting theme that posited the strategic importance of looking at reform or change in terms of “big Changes” and “little changes” appeared to facilitate thinking about factors that could reasonably be addressed within specified parameters and time frames.  What follows is a brief discussion of ideas and issues discussed at the meeting and small group break outs as well as brief descriptions of the two major presentations.  Appendices provide additional information.

The Meeting’s Big Ideas

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1.  There is an urgent need to rethink what is reasonable to expect from universities and colleges in regard to working with K-12 education and to direct and redirect efforts accordingly. 

The entire group thought that the original MSP guidelines were naïve in terms of what was expected of IHEs involved in PreK-12 reform and that project results, in all but a few cases, reflected changes that might have occurred absent MSP awards. As the roles of IHEs in elementary and secondary education were debated, many useful questions emerged: How much should an IHE "invest" in PreK-12 work?  What are the most productive types of investments? Should there be different expectations and investments for different types of IHEs? Who within IHEs is best able to communicate the different types of challenges involved in working with pre-college education? To incite and excite the faculties? In situations that demand involvement of faculty and higher administration, who is responsible for what? Who is accountable? If a collaboration between STEM departments and Schools of Education is necessary to ensure success, how are responsibilities for program development, staffing, hiring and reward systems decided?
2.  Departments (bottom up) and administration (top down) were identified as the most critical levers of change at IHEs.

Within departments, the importance of identifying and capturing key faculty whose interests are related to teaching and learning as well as to the broader field of PreK-12 education was underscored.  Although departments are key in such areas as curriculum, establishing standards, and promotion, tenure, and hiring decisions, engaging administrators, from deans to presidents, was felt to be especially critical when it comes to developing and communicating broad, campus-wide and external support.

3.  Traditional faculty roles and specific institutional roles must be respected and valued.

Whether or not IHEs dedicated to research should be major foci of activities and programs concerned with the preparation and enhancement of teachers was questioned.

Amid these discussions a compelling case was made for introducing a portfolio approach for IHEs involved or seeking to become involved in PreK-12 reform.  A portfolio approach would provide a multiplicity of opportunities and different levels of participation and commitment for faculty members to consider.  It would allow them to concentrate on what is most important for their professional lives while simultaneously making contributions to PreK-12 education.  This approach could also provide astute department chairs with arguments and venues for developing support and resources where they are most needed.  Thus, the portfolio approach was viewed as a strategic way of approaching the involvement of different types of degree-granting institutions and differing roles that could be expected of each, from community colleges to Research 1 universities, research laboratories, and informal science institutions.  (New York City’s Museum of Natural History will shortly begin to offer masters and PhD programs.)

Participants noted that oftentimes it is more reasonable to expect to interest a small number of faculty members in PreK-12 reform and have them, where necessary, serve as ambassadors to larger groups than it is to set the goal at the outset at involving large numbers.  Throughout, emphasis was placed on providing choice and accepting what it is that academics believe they have to offer, rather the predetermining for them what should be done. Application of the “Big C, little c” distinction was especially useful at this juncture.

It was argued that all departments should develop their own visions, and do so within the context of the larger university and as part of broader academic and PreK-12 educational communities. The group underscored the need to influence development of future scholars and teachers since it will be their abilities and attitudes towards scholarship, teaching, and social responsibility that will impact younger generations---a process that, hopefully, will recur from generation to generation.  The obvious need for IHEs to resume concern with issues of social responsibility and social justice was also underscored.

4.  It is important to create introductory STEM courses that reflect current research in the STEM disciplines as well as in the social sciences and education.

NSF’s interest in colleges and universities is related to its PreK-12 mission, and also to undergraduate and graduate education in the STEM disciplines.  Reforms and other changes that might emerge from the MSP program include improved teaching and curriculum, and meaningful, useful, and appropriate assessment of student and faculty learning and teaching within higher education and the PreK-12 community.

5.  Revolutions cannot be brought about without the involvement of external forces. In the case of MSPs, a critical external force is the    community as epitomized by the professional association, a community that should be profitably engaged as a major player in the reform process.

The reality of individual faculty loyalty to a specific discipline or set of disciplines in addition to or, in some cases, in place of the department and the institution led to discussions about particular roles professional organizations and societies might play and the importance of the wide visibility and considerable influence they enjoy with IHEs, departments, and faculty. 

6.  A “Report Card" similar to the one developed by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (NCPPHE), but focused on how IHE departments work with PreK-12 schools  and districts, would get the attention of IHEs, and help funders determine which institutions take this national priority seriously

AAAS was identified as an organization that could design the Report Card, carry out a study, and produce a unique kind rationale for ranking IHEs.  Report Card elements might be administered as part of the work done by regional accrediting agencies.  Year 2016 would be an interesting year in which to publish the first set of results, especially if it is AAAS” Science that is the publisher!
7.  Just as planting a crop without first plowing the soil lessens chances of producing a healthy and bountiful crop, embarking upon reform efforts without attending to important preconditions increases waste and frustration, time needed for implementation, and the possibility of failure.

Attending to preconditions involves determining what is and what needs to be in place in states, school districts, and IHEs for partnerships to be meaningful.  This includes human resources, infrastructure, policies, practices, established networks and communication systems, curriculum and assessments. A scale or “measuring stick” for determining fertile pre-conditions can likely be built upon work already done by MSPs.  For example, NSF staff noted a web-like resource for describing partnerships that is emerging from MSP/RETA work which could be a useful part of the tool that is developed.

A question was raised about whether establishing preconditions might inhibit the experimental nature of what is attempted in the field.  It would seem that if particular factors, or approaches, or conditions are known to increase chances of success, avoiding or ignoring them is tantamount to ignoring the research that indicates ties between smoking and a wide number of health risks, Systems reform is complex and complicated.  Knowing something about preconditions and using that knowledge wisely should help funders and implementers employ funds, time, and human resources with greater probability of success than might otherwise be possible.

8.  There is a stunning lack of focus on implementation assistance, despite the fact that it is during the implementation process that so many seemingly well-conceived projects falter.

The complexity of MSP reform ensures the likelihood that original implementation plans, daily and yearly activities, and strategic designs will change.  It also ensures that projects will require technical assistance of many different kinds throughout projects. And NSF has neither staff nor budget to provide all that is needed.

Shirley Malcom’s Presentation

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Shirley Malcom’s presentation, “Still at Risk, A National Failure to Implement” addressed meeting goals and activities by focusing on the many reports that have been issued since 1981, beginning with the establishment of the panel that led to the 1983 publication, A Nation at RiskEducating Americans for the 21st Century (1981); Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (1986); National Education Goals (1989); In the National Interest: The Federal Government in the Reform of K-12 Math and Science Education (1991); Preparing Our Children (1999); Before It’s Too Late (2000); Land of Plenty (2000); Roadmaps for National Security: Imperative for Change (2001); Building Engineering and Science Talent (2004); Business-Higher Ed Forum (2005); Rising Above The Gathering Storm (2005); America’s Pressing Challenge - Building A Stronger Foundation (2006); American Competitiveness Initiative (2006);  and Systems of Solutions: Every School, Every Student (2005). The reports, by themselves, tell an important, somewhat frightening story of waste, neglect, and non-productive actions.  Like Jeanne Narum who followed, Malcom called attention to the plethora of activity, the repetition of costly errors, and the failure to build on what already has been learned.

There have been many recommendations for action full of lots of rich, useful, and not-so-useful ideas. The field has been told to do more of what works and to stop doing what doesn’t work; to develop models; to assess conditions and preconditions, consider and solve problems of scalability, and develop leadership at every level.  And still the problems persist.  Malcom said that “if there is to be a focus on implementation, then focus on what works, when, and for whom. If the focus is on what works, clarify how to measure what works.  If the agenda must accommodate diverse conditions, there must be diverse strategies.” 

In conclusion, Malcom offered a convincing argument for creating an early 21st Century Sputnik-like moment, and proposed a short list of factors necessary for the support of sustainable, system-wide change.  The factors include:

  • Ownership and accountability
  • Resources, most notably time
  • Data and research-based practice
  • High expectations and high standards
  • Management and system capacity
  • Technical assistance for implementing and going to scale

Jeanne Narum’s Presentation

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Jeanne Narum provided a rich “kaleidoscope of perspectives on institutional transformation” and raised a number of critical issues: siloed conversations, unused potential of technology to break down silos, and move beyond the “insider” group; and the unrealized hope of increasing robust learning environments, drawing students into them, “and keeping them part of a community of science beyond their time in classroom and lab”.  She asked whether these issues are really new or just remaining ones that have morphed into something more complicated. 

Like many others at the meeting she worried about avoiding the costly duplication of multiple and isolated startups and missed opportunities to celebrate and capitalize on our increasing national diversity.  She underscored the need to keep the conversations going.  In what follows readers will recognize some ideas that recurred frequently during the meeting.

Bringing about desired changes at IHEs requires establishing appropriate infrastructures that must be characterized by:  (1) curriculum built at the interfaces of all STEM disciplines;  (2) flexibility and readiness for risk-taking along with provision of support space, “sandboxes,” for experimenting with new approaches;  (3) presence of learning communities, faculty as reflective practitioners, and a focus on students; (4) understanding the power of networks; and (5) ability to tell the story---and to tell it widely.

To Keep the Conversations Going
  • Food, formal structures, non-edible carrots, a focus on things that matter, and productive, meaningful discussions help.
  • Understand the institutional culture; know the right questions; address real problems;take advantage of everything happening on campus; know your current institutional circumstances; and understand the barriers.
  • Know where the money is and keep folks apprised of goals and activities.
  • Know when to stay out of the way and engage beyond the usual suspects.
Narum concluded by asking where we go next, and identifying two possible approaches.  First, reformers take what is known or developed about how students learn and turn that into a roadmap for institutional leaders.   Second, leaders remind everyone how much reform is like doing science: finding the intellectually-interesting problems, shaping and reshaping them, experimenting, learning what others are doing, gathering data, filling in gaps about the known, and identifying emerging patterns.  

“E.O. Wilson calls scientists the hunters of our tribe; those who go out to the edges and bring back information of value to the rest of us.   About ten years ago, someone writing in Change talked about scientists as story-tellers.  Determining what questions to ask and where and how to experiment with new approaches to shaping the future of undergraduate STEM....such images and words might be on your table---as they are on PKAL’s.” (Narum)

The Bottom Line

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Programs are created based upon certain assumptions.  As the assumptions are tested it may be necessary to revise the thinking about the programs.  Efforts to improve STEM education must co-exist with and/or work around the existing structure of education per se.  The need to be outwardly watchful and inwardly reflective is a key aspect to supporting change.  Efforts to effect change in STEM must involve the STEM community or they will be doomed from the outset.  The presence of support for the implementation process is a critical component of enabling change and fulfilling a program’s original and emerging goals and objectives.

Appendix 1

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AAAS Participant List

Participant List is available only to logged-in members of MSPnet. Please Log In to view particpant list.

Appendix 2: Abstracts

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The content of each abstract appears exactly as submitted by the PI.


DC ACTS is based on the premise that by deepening Fellows’ content knowledge and understanding of the cognitive development of middle grades students, Fellows will have a deeper understanding of how to develop students’ scientific thinking and understanding of scientific phenomena, thereby contributing to increased student achievement.  DC ACTS supports needs identified by DCPS to develop science educators as agents of change who have a deep understanding of middle grades science and curriculum. The DC ACTS Fellows will serve to build capacity in DC to facilitate change within their schools, feeder schools, and ultimately in their school systems.

DC ACTS has the following four goals for Fellows from DC private, public, and charter schools:

  • Prepare teachers to teach rigorous science that embeds assessment and technology;
  • Develop Fellows as change agents committed to improving science and technology;
  • Change classroom practice; and
  • Institutionalize collaboration among GW science faculty and with the District to build capacity and sustainability.

The following lists some of the data being collected by the external evaluator:

  • Pedagogical knowledge of Fellows and science teaching faculty;
  • Pre and post assessment of teacher knowledge;
  • Analysis of classroom instruction;
  • Student data. (An assessment is scheduled to be administered in 2007).

The first cohort of 18 Fellows began the program in January 2006 and the second cohort of 12 Fellows began in September 2006.  Based on a science leadership model developed in Seattle, WA in partnership with the University of Washington, the program includes the following elements:

  • Courses in physical, life, and earth science and assessment, cognitive development, and technology;
  • Aligned middle grades curricula developed at the University of Michigan (IQWST) and at San Diego State (InterActions);
  • Leadership development;
  • Professional education of science teaching faculty provided by Project 2061;
  • Science volunteers;
  • Stipends for seminars and summer institutes;
  • Communities of practice;
  • Travel grants;
  • Books and materials.

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            Middle-grade (5-8) mathematics teachers in Washington, DC public, private and charter schools are recruited to participate in a Department of Education Math/Science Partnership mathematics leadership training program with the goal of improving the teaching and learning of mathematics.   The three partners are the AAAS, the DC Public Schools and the mathematics department of George Washington University.  The three-year program has attracted xx teachers since it was funded in October 2004.
            The leadership training focuses on several aspects of mathematics education:

  1. Knowledge of the subject:  “You can’t teach what you don’t know” Teachers in the program who are Fellows complete a three-year Professional Master’s Degree in Middle Grade Mathematics through the College of Professional Studies at George Washington University.  There are 33 Fellows whose tuition, books and transportation to class are paid for by the funder.
  2. Public Teaching.  The ability to talk about mathematics openly and clearly:  Fellows form study groups for each courses and receive $30 per hour for out-of-school group study.  Courses end with public presentations of projects or papers.  Fellows visit each others classes and coach peers in mathematics content.
  3. Professionals in the community:   Fellows are able to receive travel grants to participate in local, regional and national mathematics meetings.  They are urged to speak out at meetings and to give presentations.  Fellows are taught proposal writing skills and urges to apply for grants.  They are all members of the DC NCTM, the local affiliated members of NCTM, NCTM and the AAAS.  Articles about mathematics teaching are shared by Fellows with each other.  Fellows are given the opportunity to analyze videotapes of middle-grade teachers teaching reform curricula and in doing so learn how to analyze their own teaching as well as that of others. 
  4. Journal writing:  Fellows keep journals of their class work as well as their own observations on how they learn. 

            The 33 Fellows work with their peers in their schools, many are already resource teachers or department chairs, and with less experienced teachers in TAME, Teachers for the Advancement of Mathematics Education.  These Teachers participate in Summer Institutes learning to use the Geometer’s Sketchpad, TI83 calculators and Excel as problem solving tools.  Those who participate in the summer are eligible to take three-graduate classes at GW through the grant.  They receive coaching in their schools from Fellows.  There are xx teachers in TAME.

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The North Carolina Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science (NC-PIMS), a comprehensive K-12 Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Program initiative, is a joint effort among

  • 12 school districts / LEAs in eastern North Carolina
  • four institutions of The University of North Carolina System -- East Carolina University (ECU), Fayetteville State University (FSU), University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), and University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW)
  • the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI)
  • the North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network (NC-MSEN). The NC-MSEN Professional Development Centers / University Hubs at ECU, FSU and UNCW provide the infrastructure for NC-PIMS.

The Partnership works to improve / increase mathematics teaching and learning in its partner school districts / LEAs in eastern North Carolina, while simultaneously decreasing current student achievement gaps.  To achieve this goal, the NC-PIMS focuses on three components:

  • Policy and District Leadership, which involves those actions that promote policies and district leadership in support of high-quality mathematics instruction.  District Leadership Teams (DLTs) in partner districts and Regional Leadership Teams (RLTs) at each of the Hubs bring school, university and community leaders together to affect district reform efforts, align resources and activities to support mathematics teaching and learning and improve communication across the three NC-PIMS regions.
  • Teacher Professional Development, which uses a Cascade Model of Professional Development focused on mathematics content and pedagogical content knowledge, including graduate-level courses, and curriculum leadership at the school level. This three-tiered model uses a structure that involves Facilitators (master teachers), Lead Teachers, and other classroom teachers.
  • Student Encouragement / Parental Involvement, which uses community-based programs that target PK-8 students and their parents / guardians / caregivers and encourage students to remain engaged in mathematics learning and to improve their academic performance.

The NC-PIMS initiative

  • has active District Leadership Teams (DLTs) and Regional Leadership Teams (RLTs) that are supporting mathematics reform and examining sustainability of project elements
  • has completed it first iteration of professional development for K-8 principals
  • (Lenses on Learning), in partnership with the Education Development Center’s RETA, (Dr. Barbara Scott Nelson, PI)
  • continues to prepare a cadre of Lead Teachers, through graduate-level courses and a leadership curriculum, who are conducting 12 hours of content-based professional development for their colleagues
  • involves STEM faculty from the partner universities and other IHEs in the content development of Lead Teachers through graduate-level mathematics courses that are designed and taught by STEM mathematics and mathematics education faculty
  • has provided standards- and content-based workshops for parents and caregivers of PK-8 students, as well as community leaders; trained parents to conduct parent workshops; and developed and provided content- and standards-based mathematics materials /activities for after-school and summer program providers to use in their programs.

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(M2)The vision of the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership (M2) is to create and sustain a University, Educational Service Unit (ESU), Local School District partnership with the capacity to educate and support teams of outstanding middle level (Grades 5 – 8) mathematics teachers who will become intellectual leaders in their schools, districts, and ESUs. By investing in high-quality teachers, our long-term goal is to improve K-12 student achievement in mathematics and to significantly reduce achievement gaps in the mathematical performance of diverse student populations. The work of the M2 Institute is informed by and provides evidence-based contributions to research on learning, teaching, and teacher professional development. A focus feature of the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership is our commitment to rural teachers, schools, and districts.
Math in the Middle Institute Partnership (M2) has three major components:

  • The M2 Institute, a multi-year institute that offers participants a coherent program of study to deepen their mathematical knowledge for teaching and to develop their leadership skills;
  • Mathematics learning teams, led by M2 teachers and supported by school administrators and university faculty, which develop collegiality, help teachers align their teaching with state standards, and assist teachers in examining their instructional and assessment practices; and
  • A research initiative that will transform the M2 Institute and the M2 mathematics learning teams into laboratories for educational improvement and innovation.

The M2 Institute is: (1) enriching teachers’ mathematics knowledge; (2) assisting them in transferring mathematics knowledge into their classrooms; and (3) creating communities of professionals (K-12 and college) who work together as leaders to strengthen middle level mathematics courses and curricula in the middle level classroom. Strengthened by the knowledge and leadership skills gained in the M2 Institute, M2 teachers then lead district and ESU efforts to improve mathematics teaching and learning by creating mathematics learning teams in which they mentor and coach their peers as they develop ways to enhance student achievement. The research agenda generates new evidence-based knowledge about mathematics teacher professional development.

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The MSPinNYC is a partnership between institutions of higher education, the New York City (NYC) Department of Education, and particular School Regions and high schools within NYC.  It is, at once, a summer learning camp for high school students, a professional development school for high school and college teachers, a recruitment ground for future teachers, a particular way of confronting policy and practice in large urban centers, and a research laboratory for all its participants.  The project involves two major components: a micro--- focused on teaching and learning, and a macro---focused on scale-up, institutionalization, sustainability, and whom what works best and in which particular environments provoke the projects’ policy. It is boldly experimental, the result of many groups working together to ensure the success of all its students.  Discovering what works, why it works, for actions and decisions.  The project’s experiments include:

  • Employing indirect methods of addressing endemic problems focused on “all students”, efficacy issues and developing partnerships within and among the secondary school and university communities.
  • Eliciting student voices within the instructional arena.
  • Partnering college and high school faculty as teachers of high school students.
  • Doing professional development in the process of teaching, for both high school and college faculty.
  • Learning mathematics and science content informally, absent specific content classes.
  • Doing research on practice---and altering practice in real time based on research.
  • Developing policy directly from practice, buttressed by data and evidence.

The core of the summer program, offered simultaneously on two college campuses, is professional development for high school and college teachers and prospective teachers, and academic support in mathematics and science for high school students who previously failed a New York State Regent’s exam. The academic year program extends the summer learnings, and works to catalyze change in the selected Hub schools.  Hub schools, exemplars of excellence in mathematics and science, provide clinical sites for teacher education, and laboratories in which high school teachers and college faculty can conduct research and create research-driven practices.

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Drawing from Southwest Pennsylvania’s 138 K-12, small to large, local control school districts, resource-poor to wealthy, located in rural, suburban, and urban settings in the region near Pittsburgh, the Math Science Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania comprises 53 K-12 districts with combined enrollment of 160,000+ K-12 students. Out of the 40+ regional institutions of higher education (IHEs), IHE partners include Carlow University, Chatham College, Robert Morris University, and Saint Vincent College. The Partnership moves research-based practice to scale with a model workable for the similar small school districts and myriad small private IHEs that make up much of the nation’s educational system.

Almost 100 K-12 districts are served by the four partner Intermediate Units (IUs), which are publicly funded, regional education service agencies. As the largest IU in the state, serving half the partner districts, the Allegheny IU leads this collaborative to help all K-16 students find success in the science and mathematics necessary for the 21st century. IU counterparts are found across the nation in states such as New York, Colorado and Michigan. With Science and Math Coordinators (7.5 FTE), the Partnership introduces into the IU system their content expertise and sustained capacity for the strategic coordination of relationships between multiple K-12 school districts and smaller private colleges and universities. The Partnership builds intentional feedback loops within K-16 to help IHEs become more responsive to the heightened expectations for strengthened math and science learning experiences for all undergraduate students, and relevant preparation of pre-service teachers. As IUs serve all districts, IU coordination offers scalability and replicability, demonstrated recently with five new districts.

The Math & Science Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania joins K-16 forces to increase student knowledge. Expanding on the work of the pre-existing Math & Science Collaborative, the MSP builds capacity of leadership cadres, within each district and IHE partner, to act strategically to use evidence-based tools and comprehensive, K-16 planning to (a) increase the quality of their educator workforce and (b) enable access to and success with challenging courses within coherent curricula for all students. Rather than promoting either IHE or K-12 sector as the expert source of potential solutions, the partnership taps external expertise in the non-profit sector. IHE faculty and IU-based Coordinators together receive training in proven professional development tools by these expert partners. The Partnership features those tools in educator learning experiences facilitated by the Coordinators and the IHE faculty to build K-16 professional communities of learners that focus on enhanced learning for all students.

  • Leadership Action Academy engages teams from each partner, including administrative leadership, in analyzing relevant data and resources to plan and implement comprehensive annual action plans which ensure support necessary for teacher leaders to be successful.
  • Each Leadership Team identifies and supports teacher leaders (308 by Year 3) who participate in discipline/level specific multi-year Teacher Leadership Academies where they develop leadership capacity, form networks, and become familiar with mathematics and science curriculum frameworks and the featured expert training and tools.
  • In turn, these Teacher Leaders facilitate in-district academies of their colleagues (2391 by Year 3) featuring the research-based tools. To build capacity for continual refinement of instruction, the third year of the TLA features the supported introduction of Lesson Study.
  • Each Leadership Team selects principals who participate in a seminar series to build their capacity to observe, conference and coach educators to improve student learning.
  • Representatives from districts using featured challenging curricular materials are convened in Educator Networks to support effective implementation and deepened content knowledge of the educators.
  • The Leadership Team selects Teacher Fellows to work full-time with IHE partners for a semester to a year to refine IHE courses while deepening their own content knowledge.

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USM is currently at the end of year 4 of our National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership Project. USM developed this project in partnership with the Montgomery County School System. Partners include UMCP, UMBC, TU, UMBI, UMCES, Maryland Sea Grant College, Montgomery College, and the Universities at Shady Grove. The goals of the grant are to provide professional development for MCPS science teachers, to improve MCPS student achievement on the Maryland High School Assessments, to improve undergraduate science education, and to encourage more undergraduate and graduate science students to enter teaching.

Over the past four years the VIP project has provided science content professional development for 300 teachers in the form of workshops, seminars, an online community, and a summer institute that focuses on the teaching and learning of science. Our faculty and the Montgomery County science teachers (in 5 different science disciplines) have been engaged in field testing and validation of assessments that are aligned with state and national science standards.

In addition to the work on curriculum development and assessment, the high school and university partnerships have provided internships for science majors (from UMBC and College Park) in high school science classrooms, summer internships for high school teachers in science research labs at UMBI, and faculty learning communities that have produced extensive revisions of more than a dozen undergraduate science courses.

Appendix 3

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Questions for September 28-29 AAAS Meeting
  • How important is it to change university cultures? If the bottom line is improved PreK-12 learning and teaching in mathematics and science, what changes are most critical?  Are there useful strategies and practices for bringing them about? What are they?  Who and what can best provoke universities to change?  Who can help them along the way?

  • A RETA PI that addresses the impact of educational partnerships, said ‘it is unlikely that the natural sciences will ever see educational research as having the same weight as traditional research.”  If this is the case, how will we realize the changes being sought?

  • Same problem, framed differently: Universities reward faculty members for research, not for significant involvement in efforts to improve K-12 education. Can any type of “school-university partnership” be successful under such constraints?

  • Have cultures of evidence been established in teacher preparation and enhancement programs? (What is a culture of evidence?)

  • What factors encourage collaboration in teaching and/or research within departments? across departments and schools? among IHEs, four-year colleges, and community colleges? between IHEs and PreK-12s? Describe the kinds of relationships that ought to exist between these groups. 

  • Has collaboration encouraged significant engagement between research scientists and mathematicians, and mathematics and science educators?  What is the nature of the research undertaken?  What specific roles cab university researchers play in improving elementary education? secondary education?
  • IHEs have been involved with PreK-12 in the past.  What makes MSP efforts unique?

  • What factors make reform so different in elementary and secondary school settings? (content, organization, teacher preparation, pedagogy, strategies)

  • What roles have professional organizations played in reform?  Can they play even larger ones in the future?

  • What criteria would you use to judge the success of an MSP? your MSP?

  • Do circumstances of the past few decades suggest new roles for universities, especially public universities?

Appendix 4

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Morning, Day 1, September 28, 2006, AAAS, Board Room

8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Welcome and Introductions
9:00 Overview,  Context, and Agenda Review, Madeleine Long
9:15 MSP site presentations
10:30 Coffee Break
10:45 Presentations cont’d
11:30 Implications for Research, TA, and New Funding Efforts
noon Lunch
Afternoon, Day 1, Board Room
1:00 An Action Agenda for STEM Education Reform, K-21, Shirley Malcom
1:45 Issues and Ideas (small group discussions)
3:15 Coffee Break
3:30 Issues and Ideas cont’d
4:30 Reporting Out
5:00 Break
5:30 Working Dinner & Informal Discussion
Day 2, September 29, 2006, Board Room
 8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Issues, Ideas, and Burning Questions
9:00 NSF and USED, Questions and Discussion
10:30 Coffee Break
10:45 A Kaleidoscope of Ideas for IHE Reform, Jeanne Narum
11:15 Next steps
noon Lunch
1:00-3:00 Preparation of Report (sub group)