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University of Iowa News Release

April 20, 2005

UI Gets $450,000 Grant For K-6 Teacher Science, Math Development

The University of Iowa has received a $450,000, three-year grant to train about 50 K-6 elementary school teachers in science and mathematics education. The grant is provided by the federal Mathematics and Science Partnership Program, a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, and is administered by the Iowa Department of Education.

Project co-directors John Dunkhase, coordinator of the Secondary Science Teacher Education Program in the College of Education, and Walter Seaman, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Mathematics, note that the grant is the result of 15 months of planning between the UI Science Education Center, UI Department of Mathematics, Grant Wood Area Education Agency and six high-need, local school districts.

Called SMARTS (Science and Mathematics Avenues to Renewed Teachers and Students), the project will provide 120 hours of continuous professional development to nine teams, each composed of between four and six teachers, as well as principals from six school districts. Significantly, the project designers have already had successful science and mathematics curriculum development experiences.

"SMARTS draws upon lessons learned from our successful Title IIA (Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program) professional development projects (SMILE/SMILE II) conducted with middle school teachers from these same districts. As such, SMARTS will contribute to district systemic change," says Dunkhase, who directed the SMILE and SMILE II projects.

"This is an example of an on-going partnership between the UI and the Grant Wood Area Education Agency, specifically, to provide professional development on research-based best-practice for teaching and learning strategies that lead to increases in student achievement," he says. "It brings together the content and research expertise of the UI and the professional development expertise of the area education agencies to benefit science and mathematics teachers and their students."

Seaman, who is currently teaching a mathematics course for elementary education majors which he and other mathematics and education faculty members collaboratively designed and implemented, says that SMARTS is a comprehensive project.

"The goal is to increase the science and mathematics achievement of K-6 students and reduce the mathematics and science achievement gap between schools of different economic means through intensive summer institutes, academic year lesson-study groups and seminars, on-site assistance and online discussion groups," Seaman says. "The results should indicate improved student mathematics and science achievement on district-developed and standardized tests; enhanced teacher use of research-proven teaching strategies; improved teacher content understanding in mathematics and science; and enhanced principal support for effective teaching and shared leadership."

In addition, SMARTS will result in the development of several related projects: research lessons in mathematics and science illustrating inquiry-based instruction; shared learning at annual a spring symposium; presentations at professional conferences; and a professional journal article documenting project activities and their impact on teaching and learning.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, or Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,