November 10, 2015

Wayne State receives $1.4 million grant to prepare next generation of math teachers in Detroit

DETROIT - There is a growing critical need to produce a high quality teaching workforce in elementary and middle school mathematics nationally. Thanks to a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, Wayne State University will be embarking on a new program that will prepare the next generation of mathematics teachers in Detroit.  

The project, TeachDETROIT, will prepare elementary and middle school mathematics teachers for Detroit Schools at a time that United States students lag behind their international peers in mathematics achievement.  

"We are facing a critical challenge because proficiency in mathematics is essential for entry to college, access to employment and economic well-being," said Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D., assistant professor of Mathematics Education in the College of Education at WSU and principal investigator on the grant. "This grant has come at a very important time as student scores in mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have dropped to among the lowest in the country."

In conjunction with Henry Ford College, the Detroit Public Schools and Wayne Westland Community Schools, Wayne State University will recruit, train and induct 56 new elementary and middle school mathematics teachers for Detroit Schools. The project will provide scholarships and stipends to highly qualified candidates to support their participation in an innovative urban teacher residency program for 15 months as they work with outstanding mentors in elementary and middle school classrooms.  

"This project will create a model to prepare new teachers to be successful, especially in high-poverty schools with children of color, and ultimately will contribute to educational research.  

"Those participating in the project will receive substantial training that will help them to teach mathematics for understanding, design and carry out sophisticated assessments of student progress, develop skills to work with diverse students, analyze data, and adjust instruction as needed," said Lewis. "Preparing successful math teachers is challenging, particularly since mathematics instruction has changed from the mathematics classes many teachers remember from childhood."  

"This program is a great example of Wayne State's commitment to focusing on urban problems that require complex solutions that require us to work in, contribute to, and improve the city of Detroit," said Gloria Heppner, associate vice president for Research.  
We are especially concerned about providing high-quality teachers to children of color living in poverty. This program will help prepare our teacher candidates to be knowledgeable and effective in working with Detroit families."

Once graduates have completed the participating in TeachDETROIT, the program will continue outreach efforts by mentoring graduates during their first two years as teachers, and will keep them connected by ongoing conversations about best practices in mathematics instruction.  

Saliha Ozgun-Koca, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education and Robert Bruner, Ph.D., professor of mathematics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are co-principal investigators on the project.  

This research was supported by National Science Foundation, award number 1540819.

About Wayne State University,  
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students. Its School of Medicine is the largest single-campus medical school in the nation with more than 1,200 medical students. In addition to undergraduate medical education, the school offers master's degree, Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. programs in 14 areas of basic science to about 400 students annually.


Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845

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