Major Donation Launches New Math and Science Education Initiative

pile of US paper money

A donation of $125 million from ExxonMobil Foundation will support a new program to help America regain its global leadership position in technological innovation by supporting programs that improve math and science education. The new program, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), was announced by ExxonMobil and leaders in America’s education community on March 9.

The NMSI was created in response to the National Academies’ 2005 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which called for improving American students’ performance in math and science to ensure U.S. global competitiveness.

The NMSI will scale-up two existing programs. One is training and incentive programs for Advanced and pre-Advanced Placement courses. The AP program enables high-school students to take college-level material and often to gain college credit for their work. The other is UTeach, a program at the University of Texas at Austin that has become a national model for science teacher preparation. The UTeach program has doubled the number of UT Austin students receiving math and science teacher certification.

The University of Texas at Austin is a member of the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC), an association of physics departments dedicated to the improvement of K-12 physics and physical science teacher preparation. PTEC grew out of the APS-led Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) program for improving teacher preparation.

UTeach has implemented the practices that PhysTEC and PTEC promote to improve science teacher preparation. One factor in the program’s success is the significant collaboration among the College of Natural Science, the College of Education, and teachers from local schools, said Michael Marder, a professor of physics and co-director of UTeach.

“The most important element in UTeach is the fact that groups of people who used to work separately have come together,” said Marder, who is also the chair of the APS Committee on Education. 

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