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UM receives $1.2M grant to benefit math teachers

By Elizabeth McCormick

University of Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Education has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the University of Mississippi Center for Mathematics and Science Education to fund a professional development initiative that will benefit up to 120 math teachers in Mississippi public schools over the next three years.

Dubbed the C4 Project, the Creating Continuity and Connections across Content Project seeks to improve student achievement in mathematics among K-8 students and enhance teacher performance. C4 will fortify teachers’ content knowledge and, their big-picture understanding of objectives and the learning processes across multiple grade levels.

“In this project, teachers in grades K-8 will all be together in one class and look at the spectrum of how students learn math across those grade levels,” said Julie James, CMSE professional development coordinator. “We want to equip these teachers with a bigger picture understanding of where they fit in the puzzle of how students learn mathematics.”

The grant funding for C4 hails from the Mathematics and Science Partnerships, or MSP, between MDE and the U.S. Department of Education. This is the third major grant-funded project the CMSE has launched through MSP-MDE funding since it opened at UM in 2006.

Starting this summer, the project will benefit select educators in north Mississippi through a two-week summer institute. An annual conference for participating teachers, as well as follow-up activities led by accomplished mathematics instructors throughout the academic year, is also in the works.

The second focus of C4 is on formative assessment, a concept that integrates assessment into the teaching process, James said. Formative assessment training will be an online component of the project and the major focus of the annual conference.

“This is an opportunity to help teachers learn how to assess students on a daily basis or on a weekly basis, so when it comes time for the end of unit or even the state test, there’s no surprises,” James said. “Teachers will know how everyone is going to perform because you know what they’ve learned and will have evidence from the students.”