University Courses on
Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge
The CPS math and science university course program for teachers was designed in the context of national and state education policies, programs, research, and labor markets.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, passed in January 2002, included teacher quality within its scope. It stated that, by 2005-2006, school districts would be required to demonstrate that teachers providing direct instruction in core academic subjects were “Highly Qualified.” Around the same time, local media was questioning CPS teacher quality after an investigative report indicated many teachers did not have the appropriate credentials. Arne Duncan had been appointed by Chicago’s Mayor Daley in 2001 as the district’s new CEO. He responded to the teacher quality issue by creating new CPS policies banning the hiring of teachers without proper credentials and giving uncertified teachers a deadline of two years to become certified.
The National Science Foundation Urban Systemic Program funded a CPS program that brought area university math and science faculty together to develop courses for teachers beginning in 2000. A grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education seeded a Chicago symposium series in 1999 for math and science faculty to discuss “Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science: Teaching and Practice”.
The success of reform efforts relied on relationships (both formal and interpersonal) between school district staff and faculty at the area universities. With district changes in 2002-2003, these relationships became more strategic and built on important shared attributes. Chicago Public Schools staff and the university-based partners were:
- Aware of the research literature on mathematics and science teaching and learning,
- Planning for federal No Child Left Behind policies related to Highly Qualified teachers and aware of the teacher labor market,
- Experienced in pursuing external funding, and
- Willing to trust each other and able to work across the district-university divide.