In FY 2002, NSF requests $200.0 million to initiate
the President's Math and Science Partnerships Initiative (MSPI).
The Partnerships initiative is part of the President's No Child
Left Behind initiative to strengthen and reform K-12 education.
(Millions of Dollars)
|Math and Science
We know from national and international studies that
today too many children are being left behind in math and science
education, areas critical to success in an increasingly technological
world. Too few of their teachers have the right preparation for
teaching math and science; too few of their schools provide a rigorous,
challenging curriculum; and, as a result, too few of them take the
advanced coursework that leads to future opportunities. The first
two of these failings are indicators of problems with the capacity
of our educational system to provide the prerequisites for learning
to high standards that the MSPI will address.
The Partnership initiative will provide funds for
states and local school districts to join with institutions of higher
education, particularly with their departments of mathematics, science,
and engineering, in strengthening math and science education. It
is designed to mobilize the mathematicians, scientists, and engineers
of higher education to be part of the solution to K-12 education
- to help raise math and science standards, provide math and science
training for teachers, and create innovative ways to reach underserved
schools and students. It emphasizes ensuring that all students have
the opportunity to perform to high standards, using effective, research-based
approaches, improving teacher quality, and insisting on accountability
for student performance. One of its key objectives is to eliminate
performance gaps between majority and minority and disadvantaged
As the initiative begins, state and local education
agencies will be in different stages of readiness for partnering
with institutions of higher education, as will the institutions
themselves. While many states have already instituted similar partnerships,
some will be exploring partnerships of this type for the first time.
Implementation of the initiative must recognize these differences
in readiness, allowing state and local education agencies and their
partnering institutions to determine the challenges they face and
to design collaborations that fit their needs.
NSF anticipates two major categories of activity
under the MSPI. Each requires the establishment or intensification
of partnerships, plans for improving math and science education,
and accountability mechanisms. They differ in the nature of the
partnership and the location of leadership for the activity.
Infrastructure Partnerships will provide
a framework for states to partner with institutions of higher
education to gauge their current status with respect to math
and science education and to develop and implement plans for
improvement. Infrastructure activities are expected to be broad
in scope and to be aimed at statewide coordinating functions
including teacher certification and concomitant teacher education
programs, data generating capabilities, or aligning assessments
to high standards. They would also target areas for more intense
activity through other mechanisms.
Action Partnerships will enable partners
at state and local levels to act to improve math and science
education through design and exploration of new models of action
and adaptation of existing models to local circumstances. These
awards assume an intensity of action that requires their control
to be vested locally, presumably in a single school district
or collection of school districts.
All partnership activities will result in awards
made through competitive processes that use merit review involving
a rich mix of mathematicians, scientists, engineers, state and local
education officials, teachers, educators, and researchers. Proposers
will be asked to describe a plan of action, its importance in meeting
the objectives of the Math and Science Partnerships initiative within
the state, the research base that supports it, and the immediate
and longer-term goals to which they are willing to be held accountable.
Reviewers will be asked to give priority to projects that show the
greatest potential for meeting the objectives of the MSPI, particularly
for addressing gaps in performance between majority and minority
and disadvantaged students.
NSF will work with the relevant communities to identify
areas of action appropriate for the Math and Science Partnerships,
to amplify the range of potential activities, to explore the types
of accountability that best describe progress, and to identify a
research-based set of effective practices to inform the partnerships.
These communities are poised to act in a number of areas that are
critical to success in the Partnerships initiative, having identified
issues and possible mechanisms for action in areas such as:
Improving rigor and alignment of standards, curriculum,
and assessments at the state, district, and school levels;
Leadership and support for professional development
of teachers based on appropriate standards for teacher knowledge
Improving the preparation of teachers in math
and science content areas as essential to improving student
Development of replicable or adaptable models
of systemic reform for improving math and science achievement;
Improved assessment and use of data, particularly
the ability to disaggregate data by gender, race/ethnicity,
and socioeconomic and educational background.
The Math and Science Partnerships initiative will
enable action in these areas to help ensure that no child is left