Summary of FY2002 Budget Request to Congress - National Science Foundation


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)

   FY 2000
FY 2001
FY 2002
Amount Percent
Math and Science Partnership Initiative
Total, MSPI

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 students.

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 and skills;

  • Improving the preparation of teachers in math and science content areas as essential to improving student achievement;

  • Development of replicable or adaptable models of systemic reform for improving math and science achievement; and

  • 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 behind.

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