University Courses on
Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge
Context: Funding Availability
In Chicago, funding streams and university-based mathematics and science expertise came together in 2000 to support the enhancement of teacher content knowledge in mathematics and science. In January 2000, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) received a five-year National Science Foundation Urban System Program grant to improve math and science education. Among the initiatives included in the grant proposal was a partnership between CPS, Northwestern University, and others to develop and pilot university math and science courses for K-8 teachers. These courses were designed to improve teachers’ content knowledge of math and science, pedagogical skills for teaching these subjects, and an understanding of how students learn. Between January 2000 and summer 2003, university partners and the district piloted these courses on a limited scale and NSF grant funds paid the tuition costs.
Beginning in 2004, the program expanded under the auspices of the new Chicago Math & Science Initiative (CMSI) and additional funding for teaching and tuition of these courses came from state sources. State of Illinois No Child Left Behind grants supported teachers taking UIC math courses. State of Illinois Math Science Partnership grants funded the district’s Algebra Initiative and teacher courses at UIC, University of Chicago, and DePaul University. State funding also supported teachers’ participation in programs at Loyola in middle grades science, University of Chicago in middle grades math, and DePaul in high school math.
DePaul University and Loyola University used their grants from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to help create their master’s degree programs in science education. By 2007, ISBE had altered their math and science grant program to require all grantees to create master’s degree programs for either elementary school or high school teachers of math and science. By spring 2008, 24 master’s degree programs in math and science from universities across the state had planning grants from ISBE. Five grants went to three CPS partner universities in Chicago: DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Loyola University.
From 2004-2008, private sources also funded tuition subsidies for teachers in these programs. BP America and Boeing Company funding paid the tuition of teachers in Loyola’s middle grades science program. Polk Brothers Foundation supported math and science middle grades teachers in a University of Chicago program. In 2006, CPS also received grant funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the McDougal Family Foundation to improve middle grades education in select schools. A primary goal of that project was to increase the number of middle grades teachers endorsed in mathematics and science. Grant funds subsidized tuition for teachers to take the approved university programs that led to endorsements.