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Jane Jankowski

William Frascella
Center for Math Education

Last modified: Monday, October 7, 2002

National Science Foundation awards $6.2 million grant for math education

IU partners with Indiana Mathematics Initiative

NOTE TO EDITORS: A workshop for second- and fifth-grade teachers involved in this partnership project will be at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Indianapolis Oct. 9-11 and the Holiday Inn Northwest in Fort Wayne Oct. 16-18. To arrange video and interviews during the workshops, contact Mary Stults, Indiana Mathematics Initiative administrative assistant, at 317-543-3318. For other information about the IU-IMI partnership and this project, contact Professor William Frascella, director of the IU Center for Mathematics Education, at 812-855-5564 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has been awarded a $6.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help Indiana's elementary and high school teachers develop more effective ways to teach math.

The grant facilitates a partnership between the IU Center for Mathematics Education and the Indiana Mathematics Initiative (IMI), a consortium of nine urban school districts in the state. The grassroots partnership, formed six years ago, is nearing the completion of an NSF-funded program for middle school teachers; the new funding will target elementary and secondary math education.

"Higher education must be involved in improving teaching and learning in our state's schools, and this initiative is making that happen," said IU President Myles Brand. "We're extremely proud of the work of the Center for Mathematics Education and the way this project connects elementary, middle and high schools with the university."

Professor William Frascella, director of IU's Center for Mathematics Education which will administer the 50-month grant, said the professional development and leadership training provided to teachers could become a statewide model.

"Our goal is to help IMI teachers provide the very best instruction, which will lead to effective math learning for all students. There's been a realization in recent years that we must significantly improve the way we teach math at all grade levels. The partnership's work during the past six years has built the trust and confidence among all involved that are needed to achieve this goal," said Frascella, adding that one of the unique aspects of the project will be interaction among math educators, mathematicians and experienced resource teachers to provide the professional development.

"One of the strong points of this grant is the involvement of mathematicians," said Professor Daniel Maki, chair of the Mathematics Department in IU's College of Arts and Sciences. "A critical focus of our department is for math teachers to have a solid background in mathematics skills. If teachers are comfortable with the content, they do a better job of conveying the material to their students."

Wes Sanders, director of technology and staff development for the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township, has already seen some promising developments in the project.

"So far we've seen teachers get excited about learning more about math themselves and then sharing more with the kids," Sanders said. "The curriculum opens opportunities for them to give their students real-life applications of mathematics, and some of the teachers have told me they see their students more excited about math and working on math."

Frascella said the strategies for working with the elementary and high school teachers in this project are different. The action plan at the elementary level is based on developing a highly skilled and motivated leadership cadre in each participating IMI district. Selected second- and fifth-grade teachers for the elementary school portion of the project will participate in a workshop Oct. 9-11 in Indianapolis or Oct. 16-18 in Fort Wayne. The other elementary grades will be brought into the project in subsequent years.

"We'll reach 20 percent of all elementary school teachers in the participating IMI districts and provide them with professional development," Frascella said. "They'll receive intensive training using the best teaching materials. Our goal is to make these teachers exemplary in teaching elementary math. Leadership training also will be provided to better enable them to convey what they've learned to other teachers and serve as mentors.

"An important goal of the project is to professionally develop teachers from elementary to high school levels to address state and national academic mathematics standards in a pedagogically rich style that can motivate students to learn important mathematics," he added.

The project will monitor student performance on ISTEP examinations to document progress, he said.

The project also will use distance technology in innovative ways to deliver professional development to the participating teachers.

The high school action plan will focus on mathematical modeling as an underlying and unifying concept for teaching high school mathematics. The approach will be presented to all of the participating teachers in workshops by IU mathematicians and mathematics educators.

"Math modeling ideas underlie a lot of what happens in the high school math curriculum. And they do so in a way that makes math exciting, revealing connections to the real world and appealing to a much wider range of students and learning styles than in the past," Frascella said.

Frascella is the principal investigator and will direct the IU-IMI project. Professor Frank Lester of the IU School of Education and Maki will serve as co-principal investigators. This university partnership with IMI was created in 1996 by George Walker, IU vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, who strongly supports this project, Frascella said. Gerardo Gonzalez, university dean of the IU School of Education, and Kumble Subbaswamy, dean of the IU College of Arts and Sciences, also strongly support the partnership and this project, Frascella added.

The NSF grant was awarded within the Math and Science Partnership program, jointly launched this year by NSF and the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will be administered through the IU Center for Mathematics Education with the support of mathematics faculty in the Department of Mathematics of the IU College of Arts and Sciences and mathematics education faculty in the IU School of Education.

Public school partners are:

Anderson Community Schools -- Lynn Black, 765- 641-2031

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (Columbus) -- Dale Nowlin, 812-376-4206

Elkhart Community Schools -- Dave Benak, 574-262-5935

Fort Wayne Community Schools -- Bob Trammel, 260-425-7255

Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township (Indianapolis) -- Wes Sanders, 317-856-5265

Metropolitan School District of Pike Township (Indianapolis) -- Carolyn Bronson, 317-387-2575

School City of East Chicago -- Frances Jackson, 219-397-0534

School City of Hammond -- Debi Maddox, 219-933-2400

Vigo County School Corporation (Terre Haute) -- Donna McLeish, 812-462-4203