Partnership Conference Seeks to Shape New Relationships in Education Reform
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The key elements in successful math and science education reform nationwide are partnerships and teamwork, according to education experts at the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF opens a conference Wednesday that will feature an interactive forum to review publicly many of its high-profile reform initiatives.
The three-day working conference, Dynamic Partnerships: Seeding and Sustaining Education Reform, will be held June 19-21, at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Hotel. The event will bring together experts to review successful programs in system-wide reform and to take a hard look at the significant remaining challenges.
This event will differ from its predecessors because "there is a major difference between sustaining reform and fostering it," Luther S. Williams, NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, said.
Fostering reform, Williams said, requires new levels of thinking and greater creativity. Williams believes the emphasis on more interactive exchanges among participants will contribute to the development of new ideas and awareness of what works, and what doesn't, for each community.
Nationwide, many new relationships are being formed between school districts and various partners, including leaders in business and industry, colleges and universities, science museums, elected officials and parents groups. The results for student performance in science and math have been encouraging.
"NSF can plant its flag and claim some success, but that is not enough," Williams noted. "We must understand what are the components of success, and how the challenges change over time as reform takes root."
The conference, organized by NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources, will include a series of plenary and breakout sessions. It will take a critical look at all aspects of NSF's large system-wide reform initiatives. Concurrently, smaller sessions will allow participants to review individual projects of interest.
The Thursday, June 20, sessions will focus on K-12 system wide reforms. A variety of individual programs will explore how educators are teaming up with government and private sector groups to bring significant change to the classroom.
On Friday, the focus will switch to higher education. A significant discussion is expected on NSF's year-long review of undergraduate education. Undergraduate education reform will be the sole focus of a separate conference, Shaping the Future, scheduled for July 11-13 in Washington, D.C.
"Teamwork is a requirement, not an option, in fostering education reform," Williams noted. "The alliances we build from these sessions can forge a powerful intervention for the long-term benefit of teaching and learning."
NSF is an independent federal agency that supports a wide range of non-medical scientific research and education activities. Programs in math, science, technology and engineering education account for 20% of NSF's more than $3 billion annual budget.
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) 2016, 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. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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