Professional Development | News

U Arizona Provides Math Training for Teachers at Underperforming Schools

One hundred and forty elementary and middle-school teachers will be able to receive professional development training in mathematics through 2013 thanks to a new project at the University of Arizona's colleges of Education and Science.

The project, dubbed the Southern Arizona Mathematics Initiative, is intended for teachers in schools that perform poorly on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards. Instructors will utilize essays, lesson samples, and training videos about Common Core State Standards in mathematics, which the state follows.

The program, funded by a $590,000 grant from the state Board of Regents, provides teachers at participating schools with 104 professional development hours, including 80 through an Intel Math course, which is taught in the fall. The course, which is instructed by both a mathematician and a University of Arizona professor, focuses on problem-solving skills utilizing functions, linear equations, rational number arithmetic, place value, the decimal number system, and integer arithmetic. The course was adapted from a program created by Kenneth Gross, a professor of mathematics and education at the University of Vermont. Participants receive a two-volume teacher manual, answer manual, and reference manual.

Half of the remaining hours are dedicated to teaching improvements, the other half on Arizona core math standards.

"One of our biggest needs in the state of Arizona is looking at student math achievement," said Cynthia Anhalt, co-principal investigator and co-director of the project. "If we work with teachers, we can help them with their content knowledge and thus have stronger impact on student learning."

For more information, visit the University of Arizona Web site.

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Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.