A historic partnership called Florida PROMiSE will join the University of South Florida, Florida State University (FSU) and the University of Florida (UF) in an effort to help Florida’s ailing math and science programs.
Florida PROMiSE (Partnership to Rejuvenate and Optimize Mathematics and Science Education) is the result of a $5.9 million grant awarded to USF’s David C. Anchin Center by the Florida Department of Education.
“The overall mission of this project is to help Florida educators, both teachers and administrators, support the implementation of the new math and science standards,” said Gladis Kersaint, USF associate professor of mathematics education and senior research associate at the Anchin Center. “Our job is to make sure the message gets out correctly so we can support student learning and achievement in math and science.
“This is the first ever partnership between the three universities where the universities are working together on a common cause to make sure that we do our best for Florida students,” Kersaint said. Kersaint was the principle investigator of the grant award.
The old mathematics standards were revised and officially approved in the fall, while the science standards revision and approval came in the spring.
According to the Florida PROMiSE Web site, the new research-based mathematics and science standards were modeled after the world’s leading standards and curricula.
The standards written for grade levels K-8 include fewer topics taught each year so the instruction will be more in-depth, in an effort to the increase understanding of those concepts.
The new programs funded by the grant will help to get the new Sunshine State Standards out into the community and inform parents about the changes in their children’s curriculum.
“The program components are being shared among the three institutions as coordinators,” Kersaint said. “We’re working with the school district partners, but we have responsibilities for different aspects of the program divided among the three institutions.”
The four Florida school districts they will partner with are Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval and Seminole.
“At USF, we’re responsible for the overall program implementation,” Kersaint said. “We’re doing the awareness campaign, as well as the induction program.”
The induction program is for all new teachers to help them understand the new standards and how to implement them in their schools.
FSU is responsible for the development of the Curriculum Planning Tool and the administrative training.
The Curriculum Planning Tool will be added to the Web site created by FCR-STEM for the Florida Office of Mathematics and Science. It will aid K-12 mathematics and science educators with the statewide implementation by providing explanations, references and resources.
UF is working on math and science teacher professionalism development, which involves a variety of research-based programs to increase teachers’ knowledge and skills.
Some university-level math and science education courses will be available for teachers to take as well.
Compared to other countries, American curricula have been inferior in producing graduates well-educated in math and science.
In the Glenn Commission report titled “Before It’s Too Late,” the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century reviewed the state of America’s mathematics and science programs.
“It is abundantly clear from the evidence already at hand that we are not doing the job that we should do – or can do – in teaching our children to understand and use ideas from these fields,” the report stated.
The commission went on to stress that the teaching pool for math and science fields is inadequate.
“(In Florida), we just have not done an effective job of updating our content,” said Laura Lang, FSU associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the Learning Systems Institute. “Our standards were much broader. We were covering content a mile wide and an inch deep in both mathematics and science.”
She said the new standards will emphasize concepts and critical thought.
“The new standards will allow us to focus on big ideas and making connections to relate concepts to the world, and we’ll be able to do a much better job ensuring that our students can think about and do and know science and mathematics in a much deeper level,” she said.