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Better Math in Texas

Math Group
Math group, from left, Kennedy, Huber, Childs, Adams

Three universities known more for their competition in athletics than for cooperation in academics are looking for a few good men and women to help solve a critical shortage of 4-8 grade math teachers in Texas.

Southwest Texas State University, Sam Houston State University, and Stephen F. Austin State University have been awarded a $1.52 million grant by the National Science Foundation to conduct a three-year Texas State Middle School Math Project.

The project could produce up to 300 better-trained math teachers. This will include 100 who earn their masters degrees in math through the project, and another 200 teachers who will be mentored by program participants during its second and third years.

"Over 40 percent of middle school mathematics teachers in Texas are uncertified, and half of the new math teachers leave the profession within five years," said Paul Kennedy, a professor in the math department at Southwest Texas and the project's principal investigator.

"These two growing problems--attrition and lack of preparation--are even more acute in rural and urban areas with high minority populations. Compounding these problems are new Texas certification standards that require a mathematics specialization in grades 4-8."

Joining Kennedy in seeking a solution to the problems will be co-investigators John Huber, curriculum and instruction department chair at Sam Houston; Jasper Adams, math and statistics department chair at Stephen F. Austin; and Kimberly Childs, math and statistics professor at Stephen F. Austin.

Thomas Wood
Education Dean Thomas Wood
Thomas Wood, dean of the College of Education and Applied Science, attended an organizational meeting for the project recently at Sam Houston State University, and indicated his support for the goal of improving middle school math education in Texas.

"The need for well-trained math teachers has reached a crisis stage in Texas as well as in the rest of our country," said Wood. "A particularly difficult grade level to staff is the middle school. This project could not have been funded at a better time. The project directors are to be commended for developing this project with a spirit of collaboration among their respective universities."

Faculty members at Sam Houston State who are also expected to be active in the project are Jaimie Hebert, who chairs the Department of Math, Computer Science and Statistics, and Max Coleman, math professor.

Also cooperating in the project will be school districts throughout the state, who will agree to share in tuition and fee costs and release their participating teachers for four Fridays each semester, for an expected contribution of about $4,500 per participant.

National Science Foundation support will include up to $6,000 per teacher for expenses, including books, materials and travel.

In addition to the four weekends per semester, participants will attend two 4-6 week summer institutes.

Applications are being sought from teachers with undergraduate degrees in any area, who desire to teach middle school mathematics, and who are willing to serve as a mentor/teacher leader. Information and application forms are available on-line and are due by Nov. 16. Classes begin in early 2002.

For more information, access the project Website. Information is also available by contacting Kennedy at 512-245-2551, Huber at 936.294.1136, or Adams at 936.468.3805.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Oct. 26, 2001
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