NSB Approves Multimillion Dollar Award for St. Louis' System-Wide Education Reform
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St. Louis is one of three cities named to receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for developing systemwide reforms in K-12 science, mathematics and technology education.
NSF's governing body, the National Science Board, has approved the St. Louis plan as well as proposals offered by the Milwaukee, Wis. and San Diego, Calif. urban school systems.
Negotiations are underway for the five-year, $15 million grant the St. Louis and University City Schools system will receive under NSF's Urban Systemic Initiatives (USI).
"We are happy that St. Louis will be undertaking this challenging, satisfying, although somewhat risky business of reform for the betterment of its children," Luther S. Williams, NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, said.
The St. Louis area schools are adopting a four-pronged reform plan, according to Williams, which includes a series of professional development opportunities for teachers, changes to curricula and instruction, increased student support programs and other internal actions.
The schools themselves will focus on "math and science fundamentals which will permit students to participate fully in a technological society," education officials say. The school leaders have developed an educational approach to attract increasing numbers of students into mathematics, science and technology careers.
"As we continue to promote system-wide reforms in math, science and technology education, we have seen the accomplishments that are possible. I have every reason to expect that St. Louis schools will stimulate high performance from their students measured by their achievement," Williams said.
Twenty-seven cities are now eligible for NSF support to fund a portion of their science, math and technology education improvements since NSF's urban reform initiatives began in 1993. These cities have the largest numbers of school-age children living in poverty. NSF purposefully took on some of the nation's hardest possible cases, says Williams, in an attempt to focus reform where it is most needed.
Starting in 1993, each eligible city received $100,000 from NSF to undertake a self-study of its K-12 system of math and science education. Each city was then asked to develop a plan of system-wide reform addressing critical issues of standards, student achievement, policy development, resource allocation and a system of support from the local community.
Nine cities received USI funding in 1994. Seven more received funding in 1995. St. Louis, San Diego and Milwaukee are the first cities chosen to receive funding in 1996.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.
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