Syracuse City School District partners with SU’s School of Education and math department for $3.6 million grant
Syracuse City School District partners with SU’s School of Education and math department for $3.6 million grantJanuary 21, 2005Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
The New York State Education Department has awarded the Syracuse University School of Education (SOE) and the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) a grant worth up to $3.6 million to fund the jointly developed “Beyond Access, to Math Achievement” (BAMA) project. An initial amount of $1.2 million has been allocated to fund the first year of the project. Additional funding in the same amount will be provided in each of the following two years contingent on satisfactory progress and successful implementation.
The grant comes on the heels of a separate $3.6 million grant from the Wallace and Gates Foundations to support the “Count on It” partnership between SU and SCSD. To maximize the impact of the proposed program, SCSD will coordinate BAMA Project activities with existing collaborations, including the recent $1.2 million Wallace Foundation “Count on It” grant project, which directs leadership development to create mathematics proficiency for all students.
“The BAMA Project is designed to increase the mathematical proficiency of grade school teachers and raise the mathematical knowledge of students while reducing achievement gaps among students,” says Patricia Tinto, associate professor in SOE and co-author of the proposal. The project will bring together SCSD, SOE’s Teaching and Leadership Program, and the Department of Mathematics in The College of Arts and Sciences to serve 300 SCSD teachers in grades three through eight.
The math department team, made up of Professors Jack Graver and Larry Lardy and graduate assistant Christy Niemerg, will concentrate on designing and producing materials.
“We will be involved directly with the teachers through the in-service workshops to help design problem sets, student worksheets, class projects and other materials,” says Graver.
Based on the premise that only confident, committed, knowledgeable and professionally well-equipped teachers can be successful in motivating and preparing students for academic success, the BAMA Project will introduce an ongoing program of high-quality staff development within each participating elementary and middle school. The program is designed to provide staff development focused on project goals while allowing teachers to select a growth plan that meets their specific needs. Project criteria call for 60 hours of staff development per year for each teacher.
“This grant is very exciting and allows us the ability to offer much more professional development to our teachers in both content and teaching strategies,” says Nancy Zarach, field coordinator for SCSD. “As we focus on analyzing data to inform instruction, we should see great increases in achievement rates across the district.”
In addition to staff development activity, the BAMA Project also provides for the dissemination of best practices information. Support teachers will present successful strategies and resources at state and national conferences, and teacher participants will use SOE’s iBuzpd system–an Internet-based collaboration tool that enhances communications among learning communities–to make research-based information, materials and techniques available electronically.
“As our world and our economies become increasingly dependent on and driven by technology, a well-educated, technically sophisticated workforce is essential for us to remain economically competitive. Unfortunately, the performance of American school children in mathematics and science is lagging far behind the performance of children in other parts of the world,” says Professor Douglas Anderson, chair of SU’s math department. “The BAMA project is one of several initiatives by the School of Education and the mathematics department to improve mathematics teaching and learning in the Syracuse City Schools and to close this achievement gap.”