SCHOOLS GET HELP WITH MATH AND SCIENCE PROGRAMS
By Heather Harden
Tuesday, November 11th , 2003
WILLIAMSTON- Martin County Schools Are taking another step toward insuring that President Bush's nationwide program, No Child Left Behind, becomes a reality in this county.
Thanks to a grant given to the North Carolina Partnership for Improving Mathematics and science (NC-PIMS) by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the county school system will have additional resources to put towards its math and science program s beginning in Spring 2004.
As one of 17 school districts in the state selected for the program, the county will received resources and training over the next 5 years from the NC-PIMS.
School Superintendent Tom Daly, say that a major incentive of this program is that it offer quality programs that provide comprehensive training to teachers.
“We're always looking for ways to provide the best opportunities to staff so they can in-turn provide the best opportunities for students.”
“(This program) provides opportunities (for teachers) we wouldn't be able to pay for otherwise,” he says.
Primarily the goal of this grant is to raise academic achievement in the areas of mathematics and science in the rural school districts of eastern North Carolina.
To accomplish this objective the NC-PIMS will sponsor programs that will include teachers, students and parents in the participating counties.
Comprehensive training will be provided for math and science teachers in Martin County at the elementary level beginning next spring.
According to Daly, training will be available for teachers in middle and high schools as early as next summer.
The first focus, he says, is to select a lead math and science teacher from each of the county's elementary schools.
Those teachers will then participate in two NC-PIMS math or science classes and 2-5 days of leadership-development classes.
After the teachers complete the training courses, they will begin the process of bringing in students and parents through community programs.
The students will be able to take part in community-based programs that are designed to motivate and improve their academic performance in math and science.
Parents will be included in the equation with programs that encourage them to participate in the children's educations.
According to the NSF, the organization that is funding the $22 million initiative, the programs offered to the school systems have been designed to benefit students and staff.
“What we've been saying for years is that we need to make science more realistic and relevant to kids in the classroom. That's the aim of this program,” says Daly.
He says that concept of making a subject more realistic to the students has already been proven based on the county's performance scores in math.
Mike Ward, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a prepared release, “many public school students have made significant strides in achieving high proficiency levels in mathematics. But there are still gaps in performance that must be closed. The NSF grant will help ensure that we reach higher standards in math and that a similar accomplishment occurs in science as more emphasis is placed on this subject areas as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act. Student Proficiency in both areas is critical if North Carolina is to be competitive in the global economy.”
Along with the NC-PIMS, Martin County will work collaboratively with sic Universities from across the state including East Carolina University and the 16-campus University of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the 16 other school districts that are participating in the project.
“The partnerships will become part of a broad national network of interconnected site that will share successful instruction strategies, entice and train competent science and math teachers and improved learning for millions of students,” said Rita Colwell, director of the NSF.
Through training provided by the program, it hopes to offer students more opportunities to learn by enhancing the quantity, quality and diversity of math and science teachers.
“One of the key outcomes of these grants will be the improved content knowledge of teacher of mathematics and science in districts across America . This will undoubtedly lead to improved student achievement,” U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige says.
The administration of martin County Schools believes that the county's participation in the NC-PIMS project will have many benefits. They are thinking the funding will enable them to improve math and science instruction and assist teachers to gain the certifications require by the No Child Left Behind legislation.
“The NC-PIMS team is very excited about this opportunity to help support the vision of North Carolina and the nation of strong mathematics and science education. This unique partnership among high education, pre-K12 education, business and industry and parents will help raise mathematics and science achievement among all students,” said Verna Holloman, executive director for the North Carolina Math and Science Education Network.
Daly says that if the NC-PIMS has more funding available after the 5-year program is over, they plan to apply once again for the program.
Other school districts in the area that will be part of the program include Beaufort, Edgecombe and Pitt counties.