Last modified: Monday, July 31, 2006
New IU center will share best practices with Indiana schools, help students prepare for college
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University's School of Education is establishing a best-practices center that will bring faculty experts to selected Indiana schools to work with teachers, administrators and other school personnel seeking to improve instructional methods and curricula.
The center is designed to foster collaborative relationships between IU and schools and communities around the state to help prepare students for success in post-secondary education.
The IU Bloomington Office of the Provost and the School of Education are investing in the new Center for Educational Sciences Research and P-16 Collaboration. When the center opens this fall, it initially will focus on schools in Indianapolis, Gary, South Bend and other areas with significant populations of minority and low-income students.
"The role of the center will be to expand on the work our faculty is doing to bring research-based knowledge to bear on improving student achievement from pre-kindergarten through college," said Gerardo M. Gonzalez, university dean of the School of Education. "Our faculty will work in close collaboration with teachers to help them take advantage of classroom techniques and instructional materials that our research has found to be most effective."
The center's purpose is two-fold, Gonzalez said. IU wants to be directly involved in helping schools raise student achievement levels. It also wants to help schools make curriculum improvements needed to ensure Indiana's college-bound students are fully prepared for college-level work.
Announcement of the new center was made today (July 31) at Decatur Middle School by Gonzalez and Michael McRobbie, interim provost of IU Bloomington. They were joined by Don Stinson, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township, which is one of the Indianapolis-area school corporations where IU researchers are already working and will be expanding their work this fall.
"We hope this effort will result in more Hoosier students leaving high school with the knowledge and skills they need not only to gain admittance to the college of their choice, but to succeed once they are there. We are especially interested in the potential impact this center could have on helping prepare promising minority students for post-secondary education," McRobbie said. "IU is always looking for new ways to help Indiana progress."
The center's staff will assess the needs of each participating school and bring together teachers and administrators with appropriate IU education faculty members who will work to apply educational research findings, particularly in critical areas such as mathematics, science, applied technology, reading and special education. Catherine Brown, associate dean for research and development and professor of mathematics education, will be director of the center.
The center will collaborate with IU's new Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, which also begins operating this fall. ISTEME was created to coordinate research and development in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education on the Bloomington campus and promote the most promising curricula and teaching techniques in math and science education. It will provide assistance to schools seeking to improve course offerings in these disciplines.
"Indiana's future generations will find themselves competing for jobs with people in every corner of the world," McRobbie said. "To be successful, they will have to be much more proficient in science, math and technical understanding. We must succeed in helping them gain that knowledge. Our ISTEME institute and best-practices center are two ways in which IU can make significant contributions to this goal."
Stinson said he was pleased that Decatur schools were given a chance to be involved at the very start of the best-practices initiative, adding that this is consistent with the primary recommendation of a recent task force on the life sciences sponsored by BioCrossroads and the Lumina Foundation.
"Our young people today are competing with young people from other nations for high-tech positions. As the workforce becomes a global community, we must do everything we can to support teachers in providing quality instruction in the STEM subjects so that our students are given every opportunity to be successful," Stinson said. "The vision that Indiana University has put forth in creating the best-practices P-16 Center and the ISTEME institute is a very important step in making education in Indiana match the needs of business and industry in the world today."
Key goals of the best-practices P-16 center include:
- Helping Indiana's schools develop plans and programs to increase the number of minority students who graduate fully prepared for college-level study at IU and other institutions of higher learning.
- Improving Indiana's schools by making IU faculty more readily available to offer their expertise to teachers in the classroom.
- Giving teachers in high-need communities access to the best teaching practices and proven curricula to convey complex material -- especially in math, science and technology -- to students in ways that lead to higher student achievement.
- Gathering data on the performance of first-year IU students and sending feedback to the high schools from which they graduated so the schools can adjust their course offerings and improve future students' ability to succeed in college.
- Expanding opportunities for teachers and students to learn through distance education and Web services.
An important benefit of the center's work is that it will give IU another way to identify and help prepare talented minority students who may be interested in applying to an IU campus. IU trustees have said they want to see increased enrollment of under-represented minorities on all campuses.