NSF Institute: Preparing Virginia's Mathematics Specialist
Virginia Commonwealth University, in conjunction with the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition, two university core partners (Norfolk State University and the University of Virginia) and 5 school district core partners offers an NSF Institute to prepare K-5 middle school Mathematics Specialists. Two cohorts of 25 teachers each earn Masters Degrees in mathematics content and educational leadership, which encompass the proposed activities specified for licensure as a Mathematics Specialist by the Virginia Department of Education. Participants are recruited from participating school systems across the state, representing diverse populations, based on recommendations from school administrators. The school system agrees to assign teachers who complete the Masters Degree program to be licensed as Mathematics Specialists with sufficient non-classroom time to carry out their responsibilities as specified under the established Virginia description for Specialist.
The Institute features: Four-week residential sessions in three successive summers (repeated for a second cohort) with extensive academic year follow-up program; one academic year distance learning class; and one academic year practicum/project class. Courses are team-taught by university mathematics and mathematics education faculty along with school system Master Teachers and Mathematics Supervisors.
The Intellectual Merit of the project responds to the need to prepare a core of Virginia's first Mathematics Specialists for assignment in K-5 schools following the Virginia's Department of Education endorsement of the concept of Mathematics Specialists to lead mathematics instruction in schools across Virginia. Specialists will be leaders within their schools assisting colleagues in teaching the mathematics their students need in preparation for advanced mathematics and science curricula in future years and leading teacher professional development.
The Broader Impacts of this project are reflected in the mathematics interest and preparation of Virginia's K-5 students resulting in increased mathematics ability and achievement. The enhanced preparation and motivation enhances achievement of students in mathematics and science curricula during their succeeding K-20 studies. The project and its research/ evaluation based refinements serve as a model for the preparation of Mathematics Specialists, which will be sustained by partner institutions and adaptable to other Virginia and national Specialist training programs.