University Courses on
Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge
Sustainability: Partnership Model Shifts
The Chicago Math & Science Initiative’s (CMSI) system of support for teachers pursuing deeper math and science content knowledge moved through various phases:
- development phase (2000-2003),
- scale-up phase (2003-2007), and
- institutionalization phase (2007-2008+).
Some things remained constant over these phases, including the partners (universities and the district), the drivers of the educational policies (federal and state requirements), and the funding sources (federal, state, and private). However, the distribution of responsibilities for implementation of the university math and science courses shifted across these phases, as illustrated in the figure and section below.
Figure 16 Distribution of responsibilities for university-based math and science programs for elementary teachers within Chicago systemic reform 2000 – 2008
|2000-2003||2003-2007||2007-2008, and beyond|
|Who shapes the university courses teachers take?||Cross-university team designs each course.||CPS Office of Mathematics and Science defines what programs and courses are eligible for support by CMSI. Universities apply for approval and teach approved programs of courses.||CPS Office of Mathematics and Science defines what programs and courses are eligible for support by CMSI. Universities apply for approval and teach approved programs of courses.|
|Who teaches the university courses?||University faculty teach courses with some CPS teacher co-teachers.||University faculty teach courses. Funds for CPS teacher co-teachers are not available.||University faculty teach courses. Funds for CPS teacher co-teachers are available for small numbers of Teacher Associates.|
|Who pays for bulk of university course initiative?||CPS funds university tuition for teachers. NSF CUSP grant funds course development and instruction.||CPS funds partial university tuition for teachers. Universities fund instructors. Grants to universities fund partial university tuition for teachers. Universities provide discounted tuition for CPS teachers.||CPS funds partial university tuition for teachers. Universities fund instructors. CPS funds Teacher Associates. Grants to universities fund partial university tuition for teachers. Universities provide discounted tuition for CPS teachers.|
|What motivates individual teachers to enroll?||District teachers volunteer to take courses.||Some teachers take courses voluntarily; others are asked to take courses to meet NCLB Highly Qualified status.||Beginning in 2008-2009, new district policy begins to phase in additional accountability for schools to assure that middle grades teachers have subject matter endorsements. Some teachers need to take courses to keep their jobs.|
Tuition support to teachers enrolled in university graduate courses in math and science began with the NSF-supported Chicago Urban Systemic Program (CUSP) in 2000. Between 2000 and 2003, CPS subcontracted faculty at Northwestern University, who then recruited and directed nine additional university partners. Together the universities developed, piloted, then refined prototype graduate-level math and science courses for CPS elementary teachers.
In 2003, when CPS created the Office of Mathematics and Science (OMS), the office assumed the direction of the university partnerships. The OMS established a number of new criteria that were required for program approval. One key criterion was that the programs had to meet state of Illinois requirements for math and science endorsements. Another criterion was that full-time academic Arts and Sciences faculty, rather than College of Education or adjunct staff, would teach the courses.
In 2007-2008, several new policies affected the university partnerships. The CPS Office of Mathematics and Science committed more resources to work with university partners and to formalize a data system. This was the first effort to document systematically teacher information related to tuition support. At the same time, CPS found the long-term expense of supporting tuition subsidies as initially implemented to be unsustainable, and announced the plan to offer teachers low-interest loans to take these programs instead of subsidizing teachers’ tuition. In parallel, the district launched a Specialization policy that required principals to assign endorsed middle grades teachers to teach core subjects according to a specific formula.
During the pilot phase of the program, each course had a university-based manager and the CUSP grant had a manager and multiple lead faculty members. In 2003, when management of the tuition payments and record keeping for the courses went to CPS, an OMS staff member managed these functions. The number of courses and enrollees more than doubled during this time. Also, CPS staff members overseeing this work turned over at least three times in five years. By 2008, the OMS had increased staffing around university-based activities and employed a full-time staff member with the title of University Based Program Coordinator.
Many of 2003-04 faculty teaching were on design teams that created the course pilots in 2000-2002. In 2003-2004, there were 11 faculty members serving as instructors of 19 math and science content courses targeted at middle grades teachers, compared to 23 faculty teaching 28 courses in 2007-2008.