Math and Science Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania
The Math and Science Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania is a strong and integrated collaboration linking broadly distributed suburban and rural school districts with an assemblage of small to medium sized colleges and universities in the region. Together they are committed to improving the understanding and knowledge breadth of Mathematics and Science for all students in K-16. The awardee and organizing principle for this Partnership is the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) a publicly funded service agency intermediary between local school districts and the State Department of Education. At the onset, the Partnership will include AIU and three other Intermediate Units (collectively encompassing 40 school districts) with four local institutions of higher education (Carlow University, Chatham College, Robert Morris University, and Saint Vincent College). In Years 4 and 5, the project will broaden by adding 12 school districts and replicate the intervention efforts in two more Intermediate Units; in these latter two years a yet unselected college in the vicinity of these new K-12 additions will also be included. There are three other involved partners 1) the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, a critical participant for sharing of their National Academy of Curriculum Leadership; 2) the Education Development Center, who provided off-site training to share their Developing Mathematical Ideas professional development curricula, 3) West Ed, which shared its VideoCases for Mathematics Professional Development; and 4)the Rand Corporation, serving as an outside evaluator of the Partnership's activities. A key intervention has been the development of a Regional Science Curriculum Framework as a counterpart to the existing Regional Mathematics Curriculum Framework, both of which were of interest to the State of Pennsylvania. Over five years this award will serve 134,000 K-12 students and more than 8,500 higher education students, including pre-service teachers. Drawing from the expert partners mentioned above, systems of different professional development opportunities will be offered and encouraged for in-service teachers. Education Development Center's Lenses on Learning is being featured for all project administrators.
The emphasis of this partnership is on improving the quality of the Math and Science Educator workforce. Working in concert, district and college level leadership cadres will develop a Science Curriculum Framework to be disseminated to schools along with an already developed Mathematics Curriculum Framework. For both curricula the intent is to present challenging courses, which focus on 6-8 big ideas for each grade, integrated in a coherent curriculum. In addition, data analysis tools and assistance will be provided to promote 1) annual planning tailored to a particular school district's needs and 2) tracking of developmental progress from initiation through broad implementation and institutionalization of the Partnership's intervention strategies to effect educational cultural change.
Disaggregated, district-specific data analysis for annual assessment and intervention planning, solidly developed benchmarking and measures of outcomes, and a planned outside evaluation by the Rand Corporation suggest that this partnership will make a strong contribution to the MSP literature. Scalability and replication in broader contexts will be tested with the addition of school districts and two more Intermediate Units in Years 4 and 5. This project may well prove to be an effective model for other states with educational service units and, more generally, for regions with broadly distributed school districts and local small to medium sized institutions of higher education.