Press Release - USM Receives $7.5 Million Federal Grant
October 25, 2002
USM Receives $7.5 Million Federal Grant to Enrich Science Instruction in
Montgomery County High Schools
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $7.5
million grant to the University System of Maryland (USM) to increase teacher
capacity to raise student achievement. The grant will fund a five-year program
to bring together science teachers in Montgomery County high schools with their
college and university counterparts in USM institution-based laboratories and
Faculty from the University of Maryland, College Park, Towson University, the
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the University of Maryland
Biotechnology Institute, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental
Science, and Montgomery College will participate in the program. Montgomery
County high school science teachers will join their college counterparts in
campus labs and other settings in mathematics, science and engineering during a
series of professional development days and summer institutes. There, they will
engage in a variety of science experiences and experiments tied directly to the
Montgomery County science curriculum standards that they can refer to when they
return to their individual schools.
The model program is designed to improve high school science instruction as well
as high school students' ability to meet stringent state science standards as
measured by the Maryland High School Assessments. In addition, the teaching
skills of participating USM faculty members will be enriched, leading to
enhanced general undergraduate science courses. Overall, the synergies created
by the grant are expected to cultivate better graduates in a county and region
whose economy is increasingly driven by science and technology.
The Vertically Integrated Partnerships K-16 (VIP) grant was developed jointly by
representatives of the USM Office of Academic Affairs and the Montgomery County
Public Schools, the state's largest school system. It was one of only 24 awards
nationally under the new Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program, a potential
investment of $240 million over five years to improve the achievement of K-12
students in science and mathematics. According to the NSF, the MSP is an
important facet of President Bush's No Child Left Behind education plan and the
first investment in his five-year, $1 billion math and science partnership
initiative. Montgomery County Public Schools will administer approximately $4
million of the grant; the USM will administer about $3 million.
USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan said the grant represents "the next big leap"
in ensuring that USM institutions are developing best practices for improving
the learning experience of Maryland's high school students, a significant number
of which will enroll in USM institutions.
"At its heart, this is another investment in building a highly educated
population and workforce for our state," Kirwan said. "The state and nation need
talented leaders in math and the sciences, and so we must do our part to make
sure that Maryland's high school students are exposed to as much quality
teaching as possible, especially in these areas. We have the research faculty,
classrooms, and laboratories on our campuses, and we have many science majors
who will be enlightened through their participation in the work of the grant.
Hopefully, many of these students will become high school science teachers as a
result of their involvement in the work of this project. It's a great project,
and the USM is the right organization to make it a success."
Kirwan, who also serves as co-chair of the Maryland Partnership for Teaching and
Learning K-16 (http://mdk16.usmd.edu/), an ongoing collaboration among all
segments of the educational community to provide students with a seamless,
high-quality learning experience from Kindergarten through college, added that
the VIP award confirms Maryland's national leadership in the K-16 approach.
"It is terribly important to prepare students for graduation from high school
and then to properly transition them into college life," Kirwan added. "A lack
of preparation in high school can lead to a need for remediation in college, and
simply put, that is not a productive use of anyone's time and money. Better high
school science students in Montgomery County will mean better college students
at our institutions, and better college students mean better faculty. The grant
improves the learning environment all the way around."
Simultaneously, university research scientists, professors and graduate students
will receive a practical, valuable experience in teaching from the master
teachers who will be leading the workshops.
Nancy Shapiro, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the USM and
principal investigator for the VIP award, said the program will reach 350 high
school teachers in Montgomery County and approximately 50 USM professors and
"Our university faculty and research scientists are wonderful signifiers of the
value of a science education," Shapiro said. "But they rarely have an
opportunity to work directly with high school science teachers or focus on
improving their own pedagogy in their undergraduate courses. The VIP will
broaden their horizons and encourage both graduate and undergraduate science
students to think about high school teaching as a career. But the primary goal,
as stated in the grant, is to improve science and math education for all high
school students in Montgomery County."
According to the NSF, the VIP is one of 17 targeted partnership grants designed
to improve achievement in specific disciplines or grade ranges. With a total of
about $90 million over five years, they will affect about 200 school districts
and some 600,000 pre-K through grade 12 students in 11 states.
As the grant begins in spring of 2003, the Partnership has committed to five
goals: (1) Improve student learning outcomes, as measured by high school
assessments and end-of-course final exams; (2) Improve teacher content knowledge
in the sciences by providing high quality professional development to inservice
high school teachers; (3) Improve college faculty teaching skills by providing
them with expert mentor/master teachers during summer institutes; (4) Enhance
graduate student teaching skills by exposing them to expert mentor/master
teachers during summer workshops, and having them complete teaching portfolios;
and (5) Increase the number of undergraduate science students who choose
teaching as a career.