UNCP, Partners Get $21 million for Science/Math Education


logoA $21.3 million federal grant to address critical needs in science and math education in 17 county school districts has been awarded to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in partnership with three universities and the public schools.

The program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education, targets 200,000 students, kindergarten through 12th grade in eastern North Carolina.

"This is a significant grant for this region," said UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors. "It is a model of how higher education should work together to help the public schools and their students."

"I am proud of our mathematics and science departments, our grants office and everyone who worked so hard to make this program possible," Chancellor Meadors said. "This grant has the opportunity to make a very positive difference for education in eastern North Carolina."

"This important five-year award reaffirms our ironclad determination to be a committed partner in efforts to strengthen the public schools and improve the academic performance of all students," said UNC President Molly Corbett Broad. "It also reflects the University's growing success at attracting federal grants and contracts to leverage scarce state dollars."

The grant was applied for by the North Carolina Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science (NC-PIMS), a collaboration between the 16-campus University of North Carolina and the NC Mathematics and Science Education Network (NC-MSEN), has received a $13-million grant from the National Science Foundation to help raise academic achievement in rural school districts in eastern North Carolina. Partnering with NSF, the Department of Education has committed $8.3 million to this effort, bringing the total award to $21.3 million to be distributed over five years.

Distributed through NSF's new Math and Science Partnership program, the grant will promote collaboration among teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and parents in 17 county school districts, the Department of Public Instruction and faculty from the four universities.

UNC Pembroke's university partners are East Carolina University, Fayetteville State University and UNC Wilmington, said Dr. Jose D'Arruda, chair of UNCP's Department of Chemistry and Physics and group leader for the grant.

"Science and science instruction are changing very rapidly, and this program will allow our public school teachers to provide the latest instructional innovations to their students," Dr. D'Arruda said. "At UNCP, we have been doing advanced training for public school teachers in science for many years, but this grant will allow us to reach out to many, many more teachers and students. I am so excited about this."

UNCP will use the grant to hire facilitators to coordinate training programs in the summer to present workshops for teachers, and during the school year they will work with these teachers in their schools. Science and math professors from all four universities will also be hired to teach and consult with the program, Dr. D'Arruda said.

The Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program is a five-year national effort to unite the activities of higher education institutions, K-12 school systems and other partners in support of K-12 students and teachers. The program is part of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" initiative to strengthen and reform K-12 education.

The NSF announced 24 awards under the new Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program - an anticipated investment of $240 million over five years in projects to improve the achievement of K-12 students in science and mathematics. The Department of Education (ED) is an NSF partner in this effort, co-funding two projects involving state education agencies.

A key facet of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education plan and the first investment in his five-year, $1 billion math and science partnership initiative, these new partnership activities are designed to enhance the performance of U.S. students in mathematics and science. Partnership projects address key contributing factors such as: too many teachers who are not fully trained to teach math and science subjects; too few students who take advanced coursework; and too few schools that offer challenging curricula and textbooks.

The new partnership program will unite teachers and administrators in K-12 schools, mathematics, science and engineering faculty in colleges and universities, and other stakeholders in K-12 education to improve student outcomes. The new projects will seek to enhance the quantity, quality and diversity of the math and science teacher workforce at a time when many teachers are retiring or otherwise leaving the profession. Designed to raise mathematics and science achievement of all students, MSP projects are also expected to reduce the well-documented achievement gaps among segments of student populations.

"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 NSF Director Rita Colwell.

"One of the key outcomes of these grants will be the improved content knowledge of teachers of mathematics and science in districts across America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "This will undoubtedly lead to improved student achievement."

The seven comprehensive awards announced today total about $147 million over five years and will affect about 1.8 million students in 11 states. Comprehensive MSP projects are designed to continuously improve student achievement in math and science from the earliest grades through grade 12.

Seventeen targeted partnership grants are designed to improve achievement in specific disciplines or grade ranges. They total about $90 million over five years and will affect about 200 school districts and some 600,000 pre-K through grade 12 students in 11 states.

"These partnerships will increase our nation's ability to serve all of our students well and will support the quality of our science and engineering enterprise," said Judith Ramaley, NSF's assistant director for Education and Human Resources.