Embargoed until: 11:00 A.M., EDT
NSF PR 99-60 - October 6, 1999
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NSF Approves District-Wide Education Awards in Five
The National Science Foundation (NSF) today named three
cities in Texas (Brownsville, Dallas and El Paso),
along with Detroit, Mich. and San Francisco, Calif.
to receive awards ranging from $7.5 $11.5 million
each over five years for district- wide reform in
K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education.
The awards, worth a total of $52 million (approximately
$11.5 million each for Dallas, Detroit and El Paso,
$10 million for San Francisco and $7.5 million for
Brownsville) take the form of individual cooperative
agreements between NSF and the school systems, and
will commence in the 1999-2000 academic year.
Costello Brown, acting director for NSF's Division
of Educational System Reform, explained that the Urban
Systemic Program (USP) -- under which these agreements
are managed -- is part of a larger redesign and enhancement
of NSF's urban systemic reform, encompassing 49 urban
USPs "evolved from the integration of the Urban Systemic
Initiatives (USI) and the Comprehensive Partnerships
for Mathematics and Science Achievement (CPMSA) programs,"
The USPs are designed to help urban school districts
implement standards-based, inquiry-centered science,
mathematics and technology education and to increase
the competency and diversity of the science and mathematics
instructional workforce. They also promote collaborations
with colleges and universities that have teacher preparation
programs to improve their approaches to teacher education.
Another goal of USPs is to increase the number of
skilled people entering the technology- based workforce.
USPs also encourage the use of research as a tool
to improve the teaching and learning of science and
According to Brown, an urban school district must demonstrate
in its proposal how the system's plan will lead to
full-scale implementation of a K-12 standards-based
science and mathematics operation district-wide. Eligible
districts may also establish a collaborative venture
with two-year colleges to promote exemplary improvement
in technical education, or collaborate with four-year
colleges and universities to improve existing teacher
preparation programs that reflect a more standards-based
mode of teaching and learning. Support for research
on practice may also be embedded in the K-12 plan
to increase the knowledge base on educational system
reform, thereby aiding assessments of urban systemic
program practices and results.
Brownsville's plan includes a comprehensive standards-based,
inquiry-centered mathematics and science curriculum
that infuses new technology and includes professional
development and technical assistance for teachers.
El Paso's strategy includes an alignment of K-16 mathematics,
science and technology teaching and learning to create
a seamless pathway from kindergarten to college. It
also plans an improvement in teacher quality and encouragement
to significantly increase the number of students pursuing
careers in mathematics, science, engineering and technology.
The Dallas system will focus on graduate student tutoring
and mentoring as a major strategy to improve science
and mathematics education. Partnering with higher
learning institutions, the effort is designed to increase
the likelihood that graduate and undergraduate students
in science, mathematics, engineering and technology
disciplines will elect teaching at the K-12 level,
or beyond, as their career choice.
In Detroit, a research venture will evaluate the extent
to which students develop a deeper understanding of
critical concepts of science based on the use of technology.
Results will provide an opportunity to move from continual
experimentation to research on practice.
One of San Francisco's major thrusts is to build more
effective partnerships with institutions of higher
education which have teacher preparation programs.
The program will attempt to: develop new courses for
both the university and the district; attract and
recruit undergraduate science and mathematics majors
into a career of secondary teaching; work with teacher
induction programs; and impact how teachers receive
For more information, see: http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/ESR/usp.asp