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MCTP Status Report, Fall 1996

1. Background and Goals of the Project

Like each of the NSF-funded teacher preparation collaboratives, the Maryland project set out to develop and implement improved programs for preparation of mathematics and science teachers. But the specific goals, structure, and accomplishments of our project reflect several critical decisions that have led us to somewhat different activities and products than the other CETP collaboratives. The decision to focus on creating a new teacher preparation program, targeted on upper elementary and middle school grades, reflected our belief that the challenge of reform in science and mathematics education is especially critical at that level and that there is growing support for use of content specialist teachers with interdisciplinary expertise. The decision to work toward a statewide program development partnership reflected our desire to build, for the first time in Maryland, productive collaborations that would reach across traditional institutional and disciplinary boundaries.

2. Specific Program Objectives and Accomplishments

At the outset of our project, in June of 1993, we envisioned development of a teacher preparation program with four major components: We believe that we have made significant on-schedule progress toward each of those objectives. The progress can be described in two ways - with numerical indicators of the project's scope and with qualitative indicators of program impact.

3. Quantitative Indicators

As mentioned above, the Maryland Collaborative set goals that are significantly different from those of the typical CETP program. We focused on creation of a new teacher preparation program aimed at the upper elementary and middle grades, and we proposed building a multi-institution collaborative development effort. Both are firsts in the State of Maryland. We planned to take the first 12 months of the Collaborative effort to develop a coherent and broadly shared vision of the new program, with the first teacher candidates and courses beginning in Fall of 1994. As of the fall of 1996, we were about 70% of the way toward our program development and implementation goals and our first teacher candidate recruits are completing their content preparation and approaching the professional education and field experience components of their programs.
  1. In the fall of 1996 we had over 167 students who have been formally accepted into the MCTP program on the various participating campuses, with applications and acceptances increasing almost daily.

    Those MCTP majors join other teacher education and liberal arts undergraduate students in specially designed science, mathematics, and pedagogy courses and other courses transformed to reflect an MCTP influence. In the fall 1996 semester nearly 3500 students are enrolled in those courses.

    120 higher education faculty and nearly 90 K-12 teachers have been involved in design of content and pedagogy courses, internships, and field experiences under special mentors.

  2. Among officially admitted MCTP students, 19% are African-American and another 4% are from other ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in mathematics and science teaching. Both figures are very close to the targets in our initial proposal.

    Among non-MCTP students participating in the courses influenced by our Collaborative, data from Spring 1996 show that 28% were African-American and 13% other minority groups.

  3. The NSF Teaching Scholars funding has been a critical aid in attracting students to our demanding new teacher preparation program. We've used the funds to make 69 awards to outstanding students. Of the 69 awards, 16% have been to African-American students and 3% to students from other traditionally underrepresented minority groups. The average GPA for our teaching scholars has been over 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

  4. Based on academic standing of current MCTP students, we anticipate 60 graduates in Spring of 1997 and somewhat greater numbers in each succeeding year. The accompanying bar graph reflects one of the conditions that have caused us to modify our original recruiting plans - our realization that first year students are only one of several significant sources for our program. Internal and community college transfer students have proven a very important source of MCTP students.

  5. Various sources of support have augmented NSF funding to make development and implementation of our plans possible. Two items are especially significant. The $198,000 University of Maryland system redeployment grant has supported our very successful internship program. The substantial increase in institutional cost-sharing during year 4 indicates the growing commitment of our participating campuses to support of the faculty development and programmatic thrusts of our project.
The results described above reflect substantial achievement of the goals set in our original proposal and cooperative agreement. However, in assessing the influence of MCTP activities it is also important to keep in mind the fact that the course changes will persist beyond the life of the NSF-funding and each teacher specialist who graduates from our program will influence over 100 students in each year of teaching - a much greater multiplier effect than what can be accomplished by upgrading standard programs for elementary teachers.

In the remaining months of project work we have three main goals - expanding the number of college and university faculty who are part of the MCTP course team, extending the influence of MCTP course ideas to students who are not necessarily preparing to teach, and building bridges to help our graduates with the induction to teaching process.

4. Products and Qualitative Indicators

The raw numbers of students, faculty, and courses give only a superficial picture of the influence that NSF Collaborative funding is having on teacher preparation in the participating Maryland institutions. To understand the impact of our first three and a half years of work you have to look at the products in qualitative terms as well.

5. Project Evaluation

The activities of our Collaborative have been evaluated each year by our national visiting committee, the SRI team, and NSF program officers. But, on a day-to-day basis, the evaluation that most shapes the PI's decisions about activities of the project is provided by our internal evaluation team led by Gilbert Austin.

6. Conclusion

In summary, we believe that in less than three years since our original NSF funding we've been able to move a long way toward our goal of building an effective collaborative and an important new kind of teacher preparation program for Maryland. We are enthusiastic about our prospects for successful work on the important tasks that remain to build permanent support for the new program.

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