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UCR Awarded Grant to Improve Learning


UC Riverside Awarded Grant to Reduce Achievement Gap for Minority Students

Project Will Focus on Two Inland Southern California Middle Schools

(October 23, 2009)

Sue Teele, UCR Extension associate dean and director of education, is leading the Inland Area TEAMS (Teaching Excellence and Achievement in Mathematics and Science) Project. The main goal of the project is to reduce the achievement gap in math and science between racial and ethnic groups.Enlarge

Sue Teele, UCR Extension associate dean and director of education, is leading the Inland Area TEAMS (Teaching Excellence and Achievement in Mathematics and Science) Project. The main goal of the project is to reduce the achievement gap in math and science between racial and ethnic groups.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – Math and science teachers at two Inland Southern California middle schools will have an opportunity to improve their teaching and enhance student learning thanks to a four-year $1 million grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission awarded to UC Riverside.

Sue Teele, UCR Extension associate dean and director of education, is leading the Inland Area TEAMS (Teaching Excellence and Achievement in Mathematics and Science) Project. The main goal of the project is to reduce the achievement gap in math and science between racial and ethnic groups.

Forty 6th-8th grade math and science teachers at Shandin Hills Middle School in San Bernardino and Mountain View Middle School in Moreno Valley will participate in the project, which emphasizes teamwork.

Teachers at each grade level will work collaboratively to prepare lessons through the lesson study process. They will observe and videotape each other delivering the lessons and provide reflections of their observations.

“Research has indicated that if teachers collaborate with each other, their teaching skills can improve,” Teele said.

During a summer institute, the teachers will be taught specific strategies for teaching English-language learners in science and math. They will learn ways to incorporate reading instruction into their math and science classes. They can also participate in summer institutes in math and science content and coursework during the academic year.

Members of the project team will spend time on the two campuses reinforcing those lessons in academic literacy. Those sessions will be open to English teachers as well.

Teachers are already participating in a needs assessment to identify areas where they believe they need help in terms of the content they teach. They will be able to take math and science classes at reduced rates at UCR to expand their knowledge in their chosen fields.

The schools were selected because both have a significant number of students who are below or far below basic in math and science based on the standardized test scores. The subgroup test scores for both schools indicate an achievement gap in math and science with Black and Hispanic or Latino students in both math and science.
The grant will cover teacher stipends of $100 a day for attending instructional programs outside their regular school day. It also will cover the cost of substitutes, when necessary.

George Marcoulides, associate dean of the UCR Graduate School of Education (GSOE), developed the research design for the project. He said the project will be evaluated in two ways. One approach will look at student test scores on an annual basis to determine if and by how much they have improved.

The second approach will be an on-going process of providing feedback and making recommendations for changes. For example, the needs assessment will identify areas where individual teachers feel they need improvement. They will receive specific instruction related to the areas where they are deficient. Later, the results will be examined to see if the methods were effective.

Robert Ream, an associate professor in the GSOE and an expert on gaps in opportunity and achievement, is a consultant on the grant. He sees a lot of promise in the grant’s training component, which is designed to help math and science teachers become more effective in working with English-language learners.

Ream’s research has found that there is a direct relationship between student perceptions about how much their teachers care about them and how students view their own abilities in a particular subject, especially math. While these findings hold for Whites and Latinos, links between caring teachers, math self-efficacy, and math test score performance are especially pronounced for English-language learners.

The TEAMS initiatives are designed to build teacher competence, in part, through an especially collaborative and team-oriented process.

“The more competent you are, the more confident you are in your ability to convey information to students, and the more likely it is for students to perceive you as caring,” Ream said.

In addition to UCR Extension and the GSOE, project partners include: UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences; the ALPHA Center at UCR; the San Bernardino City and Moreno Valley Unified School Districts; and California State University, San Bernardino, College of Natural Sciences.

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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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