WMU News

WMU receives $1.3 million for statewide middle school math project

April 24, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Four Michigan-based foundations are contributing a total of more than $1.3 million to support a statewide effort based at Western Michigan University that is helping school districts implement new middle school math programs.

The Middle School Mathematics Reform Project, dubbed M3RP, has previously received more than $4 million in state and federal support, most of that coming through a four-year $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 1999. To that will be added a total of $1,352,680 in private support from the four foundations.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation lead the list of private funding with a commitment of $1 million. Contributing $100,000 is the Dow Corning Foundation, and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation has given $50,000. All three are based in Midland. In addition, the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids has pledged $202,680 in support for M3RP in Kent and Ottawa counties over the next three years.

"We are extremely grateful for this generous support," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd. "It serves as a ringing endorsement for the important work being done in our state in mathematics education reform and teacher training.

"I am personally grateful to The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for its leadership in support of this project," Floyd continued.

"Math is a very important part of education in today's world," said Margaret A. (Ranny) Riecker, vice president and secretary of the Dow Foundation. "We are pleased to support the new math teaching and learning model that will produce a generation of Michigan students who will learn and retain more solid principles of mathematics. These students will be the ones who lead our state forward in this coming century of technology."

M3RP is a collaborative partnership among WMU, school districts around the state and the Michigan Department of Education, which also is providing major financial support. The program is helping middle schools align their curricula with the state's new Curriculum Framework in Mathematics.

A total of 164 middle schools from 90 school districts (SEE LIST BELOW) have elected to participate in the three-year program. Six regional training centers have been established in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Mount Pleasant, and Ypsilanti, with a second training center in the Grand Rapids area likely to open in the next few months.

"The foundation funds are being used to help defray the costs incurred by the individual school districts," says Ruth Ann Meyer, a director of the program and WMU professor emerita of mathematics and statistics. "We are still seeking another $1.9 million in private support."

According to Meyer, funding from the NSF and Michigan Department of Education is covering much of the cost of the "Tier 1 training" in which representatives from the school districts are trained at one of the regional centers. Those teachers will return to their schools and provide training for other teachers in their districts.

"There are significant costs to the school systems for the second phase of the training," says Meyer, "and that's where the foundation funding and other private support is needed."

New programs have been developed under the auspices of the NSF and have been rated as "excellent" by the American Association for the Advancement of Science according to Dr. Robert Laing, WMU professor of mathematics and statistics, who is directing the program with Meyer. Laing says participants in M3RP will have a chance to become familiar with those programs. They are: Connected Mathematics, published by Dale Seymour Publications; MathScape, published by Creative Publication; Math Thematics from McDougal Littell Publishing Co.; and Mathematics in Context, published by Encyclopedia Britannica.

Laing and Meyer are longtime specialists in math reform at the elementary and middle school levels. Co-directing M3RP with them are Charles R. Allan, mathematics specialist with the Michigan Department of Education, and Dr. Mark Jenness of WMU's Science and Mathematics Program Improvement project. WMU's Sandra R. Madden is overseeing day-to-day operations of the effort as the project manager. An advisory board, comprised of mathematics education specialists from around the state, also is helping to guide the effort.

M3RP is training district leadership teams across the state to help schools prepare for a dramatically new mathematics test in the 2002 Michigan Educational Assessment Program. That MEAP test will reflect the state's new mathematics framework as well as other state and national standards for mathematics education.

The training will help districts address the causes behind serious achievement problems among the state's middle school students. Only 28 percent of Michigan's eighth-grade students achieved at or above proficiency level in math during 1996 testing for the National Assessment of Educational progress.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 616 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

Participating School Districts
listed by regional training center

Detroit Area Regional Training Center
Clarenceville Schools
Clarkston Community Schools
Crestwood School District
Mt. Clemens Community
River Rouge Schools
Riverview Community Schools
The Lamphere Schools
Utica Community Schools
Waterford Schools

Flint Area Regional Training Center
Bangor Township Schools
Beecher Community Schools
Birch Run Area Schools
Deckerville Community Schools
Durand Area Schools
Fenton Area Public Schools
Lakeville Community Schools
Marlette Community Schools
North Branch Area Schools
Saginaw Public Schools
Sandusky Community Schools
Unionville-Sebewain Area

Grand Rapids Area Regional Training Center
Big Jackson Public Schools
Byron Center Public Schools
Cedar Springs Public Schools
Forest Hills Public Schools
Fremont Christian School
Fremont Public Schools
Grand Haven Area Public Schools
Grand Rapids Public Schools
Grant Christian School
Hamilton Community Schools
Hesperia Community Schools
Hopkins Public Schools
Kentwood Public Schools
Mason County Central
Mona Shores Public Schools
Muskegon Public Schools
Newaygo County ISD
Newaygo Public Schools
Saugatuck Public Schools
Thornapple Kellogg Schools
Wayland Union Schools
White Cloud Public Schools
Wyoming Public Schools

Kalamazoo Area Regional Training Center
Allegan Public Schools
Benton Harbor Area Schools
Berrien County ISD
Coldwater Community
Eau Claire Public Schools
Fennville Public Schools
Gull Lake Community Schools
Kalamazoo Public Schools
Maple Valley Schools
Marshall Public Schools
Mattawan Consolidated
Olivet Community Schools
Otsego Public Schools
Plainwell Community Schools
Schoolcraft Community

Mt. Pleasant Area Regional Training Center
Alma Public Schools
Bullock Creek Schools
Carson City-Crystal Area
Central Montcalm Schools
Crawford AuSable Schools
Evart Public Schools
Fulton Schools
Gerrish-Higgins Schools
Greenville Public Schools
Ithica Public Schools
Lakeview Community Schools
Marion Public Schools
Meridan Public Schools
Midland Public Schools
Mio AuSable Schools
Public Schools of Petoskey
Tri County Area Schools

Ypsilanti Area Regional Training Center
Adrian Public Schools
Holt Public Schools
Howell Public Schools
Huron Valley Schools
Jackson Catholic School
Leslie Public Schools
Pinckney Community Schools
Plymouth-Canton Community
South Lyon Community
Walled Lake Consolidated
Wayne-Westland Community
West Bloomfield Schools
Willow Run Community Schools

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