$5.9 Million to USF for Historic Math/Science Partnership

Tampa, Fla. (March 3, 2008) – To stem the crisis in mathematics and science education in America’s schools, three of Florida’s top universities are teaming up in a historic, multi-million-dollar effort to prepare K-12 teacher for the 21st Century classroom.

The David C. Anchin Center at the University of South Florida’s College of Education has been awarded a $5.9 million grant from the Florida Department of Education to develop professional development programs for Florida science and mathematics teachers, many of whom are teaching out-of-field due to a statewide shortage of mathematics and science teacher educators.  Dubbed Florida PROMiSE (short for Partnership to Rejuvenate and Optimize Mathematics and Science Education) the grant represents the first major mathematics and science education effort undertaken jointly by USF, Florida State University, and the University of Florida.

The effort comes against a backdrop of crisis in science and math classrooms in Florida, and in the nation as a whole.  Historically a leader in technological and industrial innovation, the United States is no longer producing mathematics and science graduates at the same rate as it used to; in contrast, emerging powers such as China and India are educating more graduate students in the fields of math and science than ever before.  The result is a looming shortage of engineers, scientists and mathematicians for America’s technology-dependent economy.

As demand for home-grown scientists and researchers has increased, the flow of science and mathematics graduates into the K-12 educational system has slowed to a trickle.  Many science teachers in K-12 classrooms hold degrees in other fields.

Through Florida PROMiSE, the three partner universities will work with four of Florida’s largest school districts (Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval and Seminole), the Florida Virtual School, various multi-county educational consortia, and the private firm Horizon Research, Inc., to develop professional development training that will help all science educators meet the state’s new, tougher standards for mathematics and science.  Multi-county groups participating in the project include the Heartland Educational Consortium, the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium, and the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the universities to work together with school districts to enhance the students’ access and opportunity to learn mathematics and science,” said Gladis Kersaint, the USF associate professor of mathematics education and senior research associate in the Anchin Center who is the principal investigator of the grant award.

Florida PROMiSE will include a statewide public awareness campaign to ensure that Florida taxpayers will be fully aware of the new standards – and aware of why they are needed.

"We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to work with the outstanding PROMiSE partners as well as educators across the state in the implementation of the new math and science standards,” said Laura Hassler Lang, Associate Professor and Director of the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University, and a lead researcher with the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Thomas Dana, professor and director, School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education at the University of Florida added, “Florida PROMiSE represents an unprecedented statewide effort to enhance teacher quality and student preparation in mathematics and science.”

For more information, go to: http://flpromise.org.

The David C. Anchin Center engages in educational research in the areas of public policy, education leadership, and overall best practices in education.  The Center is housed in the USF College of Education, which is ranked 48th of top graduate schools in the country by U.S.News & World Report.  The University of South Florida is among the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of 76 community-engaged universities designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The mission of FCR-STEM is to help the State of Florida improve K-12 teaching and learning in science, mathematics and technology and prepare students for higher education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers in the 21st Century. The Center is jointly administered by the FSU College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education and Learning Systems Institute in the Office of the Provost.

UF’s School of Teaching and Learning is part of the University of Florida College of Education, which is ranked 24th among public education schools of the elite AAU (Association of American Universities) institutions.  UF education faculty are committed to tackling pressing problems related to gaps in education achievement and teacher quality.  The school focuses its scholarship on preparing exemplary teachers, researchers and teacher educators who are committed to improving schooling for all students.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities.  USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year.  The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine.  The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.