The Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP) at Delta State University was recently selected by the State Board of Education for a new round of grant support to continue its mathematics teacher-training platform.

The major grant funding will come over a three-year period, totaling over $1.1 million. This marks the second three-year grant for the program, which began in 2013. The most recent installment will focus on K-8 mathematics teachers.

MSP, a federal program backed by the U.S. Department of Education, strives to improve teacher quality through partnerships between state education agencies, institutions of higher education and high-need local education agencies and schools in order to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.

The size of each state’s grant is awarded based on student population and poverty rates. With the funding provided to Mississippi, the MSP is responsible for improving the content knowledge and teaching skills of K-8 mathematics teachers.

The grant provides professional development training through a two-week intensive summer institute at Delta State, three Saturday sessions throughout the school year, a monthly online discussion, and tri-annual observations during the school year.

MSP Project Director, Kathleen Lott, was thrilled with the grant renewal.

“Acceptance to the Math and Science Partnership grant for 2016-2019 is significant and essential to the Delta, as it provides another option to K-8 math teachers for professional learning,” said Lott. “In providing professional development for teachers, the content knowledge of our K-8 students should be boosted. Due to the continued need in the Delta for professional learning in mathematics education, and the desire to improve student mathematics comprehension, the new grant will continue to strive for a successful program and wise use of the grant allocations.”

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, was an essential figure in developing the most recent grant proposal.

“This is one of several programs that we have here at Delta State in which we utilize grant funds to address community and regional needs,” said Boyles. “By providing professional development opportunities for middle school math teachers, we hope to be able to impact math scores and improve educational outcomes for students in our school systems. It is through projects such as this that we further our commitment to community and regional stewardship in the Mississippi Delta.”

Boyles said others involved in developing the proposal were Lott, Elizabeth Belenchia, Dr. Liza Cope, Dr. David Hebert, Dr. Clifton Wingard, as well as leadership from Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, and Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Their leadership will be utilized as a collaborative partnership between the COEHS and the CAS.

“We have a shortage of qualified math and science teachers in the Delta,” said Griffin. “Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from a school district searching to fill such a position. The grant is Delta State’s effort, with support from the Mississippi Department of Education, to prepare teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics and science.

“This will be our second three-year award, which speaks to the sustainability of the program and to the outstanding job that the program faculty have done in providing planning and instruction. We are very pleased that the program has achieved this level of sustainability.”

Cope, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Delta State, said the renewal confirms the serious need for the MSP program.

“In the past, students in Mississippi and particularly the Delta, have earned the lowest scores in the country on these tests,” said Cope. “Therefore, there is a critical need for the work we do with this grant. The fact that this is our second award suggests that our first project was a success.”

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