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Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Last updated: 12:57am

Grant to improve local math education



In the coming months, UA educators will work with schools across the state to improve elementary and secondary mathematics education.

Erin Turner, an assistant professor of teaching, learning and sociocultural studies and Cynthia Anhalt, director of the Secondary Mathematics Education Program, co-directed a grant aimed at improving math education in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties.

The Arizona Board of Regents in association with Intel Corp. approved the $590,000 grant. The math education program is slated to start in June and will run for about a year.

In addition to working with teachers in rural areas to improve the teaching quality of mathematics in kindergarten through eighth grade, the project’s goal is to reach teachers who have no access to professional development resources in mathematics, Anhalt said.

Teachers often graduate from college with a degree in general education, she said, which means they know how to teach math, science, social studies and English, but these degrees do not focus specifically on math.

This program is designed to help educate teachers to be better equipped to teach math at a higher level than what their general education degree has taught them, she added.

The program is a two-week program and will continue in the fall. In total, Anhalt said, the course will run 104 hours, 80 of which the teachers learn pure math content. A full 24 hours will be devoted to help teachers learn how to more effectively educate their students.

Arizona school districts including Nogales, Santa Cruz Valley, Sunnyside, Sahuarita and Elfrida will enact the program in addition to schools such as Tucson Country Day School, San Xavier Mission private school and the Wildcat Charter School. Four groups of about 35 teachers will go through the program’s orientation over the next year.

Mark Saliba, principal of Tucson Country Day School, said he feels that this is a great opportunity for his school to join other schools to increase the math teaching capacity.

“I think this will help us do a better job teaching our students,” he said. His school will have 11 teachers go through the program, two of whom are math teachers.

Jesse Vondercek, a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher at Tucson Country Day School, said he is excited to partake in this program.

“I’m always excited for more professional development,” he said. “Teaching is an evolving field so we need to learn how to do our job better and better.”


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