Grant helps university better prepare teachers

October 22 2007

TERRE HAUTE â€" Better prepared teachers will be heading into classrooms from Indiana State University thanks to a grant from Teachers for a New Era (TNE), a national initiative of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The two-part grant will help students at ISU learn how to better assess their pupils’ progress as well as to interweave math throughout all subjects.

“With TNE’s support, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education continue to forge teaching and learning partnerships that directly improve K-12 student achievement,” College of Education Dean Brad Balch said. “Both content and methods faculty from the colleges will benefit from this numeracy and quantitative literacy project, as well as secondary pre-service teachers.”

Elizabeth Jones, assistant professor of math education and co-director of ISU’s Center for Math Education, said, teachers need to be aware of requirements of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“No Child Left Behind is based on literacy and math,” she said. “A school’s success depends on the test. Schools rise and fall based upon it.”

Because of that, future teachers need to understand and analyze their students’ progress, Jones said.

“One thing we noticed was they were having a hard time analyzing how their students were doing,” she said. “They could see they had gone up a little (in test scores), but they don’t know what that means.”

Under No Child Left Behind, Jones said teachers must show what they’re doing is helping and have statistical data to prove it.

“Now they can go to their principals and say this is working,” she said. “Teachers have tried to do what is best for their students, which is a good thing. Now they have a way to back it up more. They have to defend themselves.”

Through various classes at ISU, including a curriculum instruction and media technology class students must take before student teaching, Jones said the university will better prepare its students for entering the classroom. This semester in those classes, the future teachers learned how to analyze student test scores.

The other portion of the grant enables ISU professors to assist in training teachers to use math throughout the classroom. The No Child Left Behind test emphasizes mathematics and language arts. While most teachers are comfortable incorporating language into a variety of subjects, they are uncomfortable doing so with math.

“A lot of principals are asking us to come and talk to their teachers about how to use math in all subjects,” Jones said.

For example, during the English classes students could be reading “The Diary of Anne Frank.” As part of their assignments, they could make models of the room the families stayed in and determine their size. Then the students could contrast it with the size of their rooms at home.

“It’s something the teacher probably already does,” Jones said. “But they need to think, we’re doing math now, we’re doing it analytically.”

Contact: Elizabeth Jones, assistant professor of math education and co-director of ISU’s Center for Math Education, Indiana State University, 812-239-2137 or ejones7@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, (812) 237-7972 or jsicking@indstate.edu

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Better prepared teachers will be heading into classrooms from Indiana State University thanks to a grant from Teachers for a New Era (TNE), a national initiative of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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