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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 16, 2003

UI Science Educators Net $270,000 In Federal Grants

The University of Iowa College of Education has received nearly $270,000 in federal grants to help K-12 teachers across Iowa -- particularly those in low-income schools -- learn how to more effectively teach math and science and better assess the results.

Funding comes from Iowa's Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program, part of the state's efforts under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The State of Iowa and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa -- which administer the funding -- awarded a total of six grants statewide, including all three submitted by members of the UI College of Education's Science Education Center: professor Robert Yager and graduate assistant Todd Campbell; professor Ed Pizzini; and faculty member John Dunkhase.

Ted Stilwell, director of education for the state of Iowa, will be discussing the grants, the No Child Left Behind Act and related topics with UI College of Education faculty when he attends the annual Science Education Conference in the college's Lindquist Center Wednesday, April 16.

The Improving Teacher Quality program encourages Iowa colleges and universities to conduct professional development activities for the state's elementary and secondary school teachers, in cooperation with high-need local education agencies. This year's grant program emphasized the disciplines of mathematics and science and sought professional development projects for mathematics and science teachers at all grade levels.

Yager's and Campbell's $90,000 grant will be used for the Iowa Chautauqua Assisting With Reforms Project, which seeks to foster collaboration among 36 teachers primarily from Charles City and Cedar Falls.

Teachers will take part in a two-week summer workshop, three-day short courses in fall 2003 and spring 2004 and ongoing collaboration through web-based interactions to learn how to adapt to science classes in kindergarten through grade nine teaching methods promoted by the National Science Foundation.

"I am excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with the new area education agency, teachers, and scientists involved with the project as we strive to improve student achievement in Iowa schools," Yager said. "It is particularly important to deal first with schools identified as high risk in terms of poverty."

With his $89,991 grant Pizzini plans to launch Project SNAG: Narrowing the Achievement Gap. The project will emphasize specialized science education training and the use of strategies that benefit all students in a Summer Leadership Institute and academic year workshops for select teachers. The professional development will model "best" practices, according to the current research on teaching and learning.

Under Project SNAG, teachers from select schools in the Grant Wood and Great River Area Education Agencies will be targeted. Their students -- who come from high poverty, low socio-economic backgrounds and who are underachievers -- will be tracked to determine whether the achievement gap between them and their peers narrows.

"Of all 17 projects I've had funded from the Board of Regents, this one has the greatest potential to influence science education because of the emphasis on student achievement," Pizzini said.

Dunkhase's $89,988 grant will be used for the Science and Mathematics Inquiry Learning Enhancement (SMILE) Project, a collaboration involving the UI College of Education's science education center, the science and mathematics faculty, the Grant Wood Area Education Agency and five eastern Iowa school districts.

"Its objective is to increase the achievement in science and mathematics of all students in grades five through eight who are in the participating school districts and to accelerate the math and science achievement growth of students who qualify for Free and Reduced Price Meals," Dunkhase says.

The program consists of an intensive summer workshop, academic year lesson-study groups and onsite implementation assistance from project staff.

More information about the No Child Left Behind Act may be found online at http://www.state.ia.us/educate/ecese/nclb/.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.