Teachers College receives grant to boost K-8 math scores in Roosevelt School District

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The Teachers College received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train teachers to help raise mathematics achievements in K-8 students in the Roosevelt School District. (Alexandra Scoville/DD)

The Teachers College received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train teachers to help raise mathematics achievements in K-8 students in the Roosevelt School District. (Alexandra Scoville/DD)

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help raise mathematics achievements in K-8 students in the Roosevelt School District.

The Teachers College is joined with the Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona education colleges by the grant, which trains teachers to provide tools to their K-8 students to pass the Common Core State Standards in mathematics.

Arizona Board of Regents administered the grant on behalf of the Arizona Department of Education. Stephanie Jacobson, Arizona Board of Regents associate vice president for academic and student affairs, said the colleges of education, as well as faculty, will partner with schools to help improve teaching with a focus on math because the subject is considered to be a “foundation course.”

“(The goal is) to take the teachers in the schools and ensure that they have the skills and preparations to teach the new Common Core State Standards,” Jacobson said. “This is affecting a lot of schools. They require a different way of teaching.”

According to Jacobson, priority is given to schools that are considered high-need schools with a low income. The grant also looks at teachers who might not be highly qualified to help create a more educational environment.

“Low income schools have a double whammy where you have students that may have less of a background or a good environment to reinforce teaching, and often do not have the funds to help provide professional development to teachers,” Jacobson said.

The grant will also help elementary teachers across the state execute the new Common Core Standards for mathematics.

“These standards are being implemented now in elementary schools across the state and schools are struggling to prepare their teachers to teach to the standards,” said Elizabeth Hinde, division director and associate professor of the Teachers College and project director for the grant. “Plus, they are struggling to obtain materials aligned to the new standards.”

The existing standards are being replaced by the new national standards. The AIMS standardized test will be replaced by the new tests centered on the Common Core Standards. The new tests require a higher level of thinking than the current standards.

“As a result of funding from the grant, we will be able to reach teachers from all over the state and create or evaluate materials that they can use to teach according to the new standards,” Hinde said.

Arizona has consistently scored extremely low in math in comparison with the rest of the nation and these new standards are aiming to focus on that, Hinde said.

“Although there has been slight improvement, we are still among the worst states in student achievement in math,” Hinde said. “So, focusing on mathematics not only will help student achievement on tests, but also, more importantly, help them solve problems they will face and hopefully become more effective citizens as a result.”

By working together, the Teachers College and Roosevelt School District will create lesson plans and create and evaluate materials related to the Common Core State Standards of mathematics. The Teachers College will provide training for K-8 teachers throughout the next school year.

The training will impact all K-8 classroom teachers, but the grant will specifically target teachers who are in their first and second years of teaching, said Debora Moncayo, executive director for educator effectiveness and professional learning at the Roosevelt School District. She said that translates to approximately 130 first and second grade teachers in the Roosevelt School District.

Moncayo said ASU faculty will help conduct monthly workshops for new teachers that will begin in August 2013 and end in May 2014. The training that begins in the summer will continue through the school year and into the next summer.

“Our district will benefit from the expertise of ASU professors as they train our coaches and teachers in math content and strategies related to Common Core,” Moncayo said. “Our hope is the training will build capacity in teachers as they tackle much more rigorous teaching standards that will impact student learning.”

Contact the reporter at chelsa.thomas@asu.edu