Overview of National Math and Science Partnership Programs

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act that was signed into law on January 8, 2001, by President Bush, was a sweeping reform of the nation's approach to elementary and secondary education. NCLB effectively ended the Eisenhower state grant program that distributed funds to states and school districts to enhance science and math education. In place of this state-grant program, NCLB established the Department of Education's (DoEd) Math/Science Partnership (MSP) program. Also established around the same time was the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math/Science Partnership program. Despite having the same name, thse complementary programs have different goals.

Department of Education's Math/Science Partnership Program
Funding for the DoEd'd MSP program has been


Of key interest to the geoscience community is language regarding professional development and curricula for math and science. In the past the DoEd's Eisenhower programs have been the vehicle for science education, but the revised ESEA would terminate Eisenhower in favor of new math and science partnerships. Established in 1985 to provide funding for professional development opportunities for math and science educators, the Eisenhower programs were designed to distribute funds to states and school districts solely for the purpose of teacher enhancement in math and science -- Eisenhower was funded at $485 million in the fiscal year 2001 budget. One part was the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education, a permanent repository of instructional materials and programs to be used in elementary and secondary schools; another was the Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia. Under the revised ESEA legislation, these programs would be terminated. In there stead will be math and science partnerships that will be administered through the DoEd, allowing state/local education agencies to work with institutions of higher education as well as corporations and nonprofit organizations to raise math and science standards for both students and teachers. The program would provide funding for all states to award grants on a competitive basis to eligible partnerships. As described by DoEd: "Partnerships would focus on strengthening the quality of math and science instruction in elementary and secondary schools and could include such activities as making math and science curricula more rigorous, improving math and science professional development, attracting math and science majors to teaching, and aligning high school math and science standards to foster college placement."


On a related note, the FY 2002 VA/HUD/Independent Agencies appropriations bill, which was signed into law last month, provides $160 million for a similar but totally separate program administered through the National Science Foundation (NSF) for longer-term math and science partnerships between state/local education agencies and institutions of higher education. These grants would be awarded through competitive, merit-reviewed process, and would fall under two broad categories: infrastructure partnerships and action partnerships. Infrastructure partnerships would work to develop and implement plans to raise math and science standards statewide, and action partnerships would work to develop and implement plans on a more local basis. The $160 million allocated to the NSF partnerships is completely separate from the Department of Education partnerships, which are guaranteed for every state -- unlike the NSF grants that are national competitions instead of state competition.

Sources: Triangle Coalition, American Institute of Physics, National Science Teachers Association, Library of Congress, Math/Science Partnership Working Group, and the Math and Science Partnerships Coalition.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Margaret A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs.

Posted November 8, 2002

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