Adams State receives grant to improve STEM education in rural schools

(12-04-2014)

The Adams State University Teacher Education Department was recently awarded a grant of $210,449 to "Empower Rural Elementary Teachers in STEM Subjects." It was one of three grants awarded by the Colorado Department of Higher Education through the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Improving Teacher Quality, Title II.

The award will provide intensive, research-based professional development in math and science instruction for 173 current K-5 teachers in ten districts: Alamosa, Centennial, Center, Moffat, Monte Vista, Mountain Valley, North Conejos, Sierra Grande, South Conejos, and Huerfano.

Adams State is collaborating in the program with the Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC). University math, science, and teacher education faculty will work with the schools and PEBC to design and pilot modules that elevate elementary teachers' content knowledge of math and science across disciplines.

PEBC will present three math and science institutes and provide job-embedded instructional coaching to build teacher effectiveness in alignment with standards and best practice instruction. Teachers participating in the institutes will become resources for teachers throughout the districts served.

This program responds to research showing the impact of teachers' attitudes and comfort in STEM subjects. Because elementary teachers are less likely to have STEM backgrounds than secondary teachers, they may lack knowledge and confidence, with the result that nearly 50 percent of students lose interest in science by the third grade.

The effort also dovetails with Adams State's Boettcher Teacher Residency (BTR), operated in collaboration with PEBC. The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded PEBC a five-year, $2.9 million grant through its Teacher Quality Partnership program. The project goal is to train 195 new teachers in STEM subjects for 15 rural school districts. Participating districts include Alamosa, North Conejos, Center, Monte Vista, Moffat, Sierra Grande, Centennial, Del Norte, Sangre de Cristo, Montezuma-Cortez, Dolores RE-2, Rocky Ford, East Otero, Crowley, and Huerfano.

Twenty-one pre-service teachers and their mentors from the BTR program will also participate in the ESEA grant program.

By Julie Waechter