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NSF Awards $7 Million Grant for K-12 'College Ready in Math and Physics Partnership' Initiative

Researchers at the University of Arkansas have received a five-year, $7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support an initiative aimed at improving preparation for K-12 teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The initiative, dubbed the "College Ready in Math and Physics Partnership," will pair faculty in the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith College of Education with teachers from 33 school districts in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The new partnership program is focused specifically on preparing K-12 teachers to prepare students for higher education math and science--to help boost retention and to decrease the amount of remedial work required of students who otherwise would not receive adequate preparation at the K-12 level.

"In the College Ready program, we intend to build learning communities of school and college faculty, help high school students be prepared to succeed in college and make effective learning materials available to students," said Gay Stewart, principal investigator of the grant, in a statement released this week. Stewart is an associate professor of physics in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. "Ultimately, the program should lead to decreases in the number of students who come to college needing remedial classes as well as increases in the number of students who are enrolling in Advanced Placement math and physics courses."

Co-principal investigator Bernard Madison, a mathematics professor in the Fulbright College, will be overseeing "efforts to revise the mathematics program for preparing secondary teachers as well as the master's degree in secondary mathematics," according to information released by U Arkansas. Other co-principal investigators include Shannon Dingman, U Arkansas assistant professor of mathematics; John Jones, dean of the College of Education at UA Fort Smith; and Pete Joenks, assistant principal at Springdale High School in Arkansas.

"This major grant will allow our faculty and their partners to reach across a two-state region and support teachers at every grade level, from kindergarten through high school. Through such a concentrated outreach effort, we hope to help increase retention and graduation rates from high school through college," said William Schwab, interim dean of the Fulbright College, also in a statement released this week.

Ultimately, the effort will draw on a variety of existing projects that will be used to build learning communities to provide support and learning materials for teachers around the country. Materials will be hosted by the American Physical Society via the National Science Digital Library portal.

Other partners in the initiative include the American Association of Physics Teachers, the College Board, the Mathematical Association of America, mathematics software developer Maplesoft, Northwest Arkansas Community College, and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at U Arkansas.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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