Montana State University

Project to support K-12 math teachers across Montana receives $400,000

September 28, 2015 -- MSU News Service

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A project designed to support educators across Montana recently received $400,000 in funding for K-12 teachers across the state as they implement Montana’s Common Core standards for mathematics. The funding is from the U.S. Department of Education and the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

The STREAM project, or Standards-Based Teaching Renewing Educators Across Montana in Mathematics, uses a combination of centralized workshops, local teacher communities and online learning to provide educators with strategies and tools for improving mathematics instruction. Since 2012, a total of nearly $1.5 million has been awarded to the project, with benefits extending to more than 400 teachers and their students, according to project director Jennifer Luebeck, an associate professor of mathematics education in the Montana State University College of Letters and Science’s Department of Mathematical Sciences.

STREAM is a partnership spearheaded by MSU and Bozeman Public Schools. It is fiscally managed by Bozeman Public Schools. In addition to Luebeck, other project leaders include Matt Roscoe and Georgia Cobbs from the University of Montana and Lisa Scott from Billings Public Schools.

“The STREAM partnership embodies MSU’s land-grant mission of engagement and outreach to the entire state,” Luebeck said. “As partners, the Bozeman and Billings school systems have contributed substantial infrastructure and personnel to make the project more widely available to teachers across Montana.”

STREAM places priority on recruiting teachers from Montana’s rural districts, who often have limited access to professional learning opportunities, Luebeck said. STREAM’s K-8 partners include more than 25 Montana districts ranging in size from Kalispell to Box Elder and spanning the state from Noxon to Terry. More than 100 teachers and administrators have participated in project events, and an estimated 300 more have completed at least one online course.

This year, 30 to 40 teachers will be recruited to participate in STREAM’s newest program for grades 9-12. High school teachers will study important concepts in geometry, statistics, functions and modeling as they examine shifts in the placement and emphasis of mathematics content in the new standards, Luebeck said. They will experience effective approaches to teaching and learning and explore high-quality materials created by other Common Core states and organizations, she added.

“The widespread adoption of the Common Core standards provides Montana teachers with unprecedented access to high-quality resources produced across the nation,” Luebeck said.

The STREAM project’s Web-based component is the centerpiece of its blended approach to professional development and is essential to its rural outreach efforts, Luebeck noted. STREAM online courses are typically three weeks in length and available at no cost through the Montana Digital Professional Learning Network (mdpln.org), a joint venture of the Office of Public Instruction and the Montana Digital Academy. Teachers participating in STREAM complete a prescribed set of online courses, but any interested Montana teacher may also register for single courses. This year, four new courses for high school teachers will be added to the 15 existing offerings for K-8 mathematics teachers.

“Evaluation data over three years demonstrates that along with acquiring new mathematics knowledge, STREAM graduates have changed their own classroom instruction for the better,” Luebeck said. “STREAM participants also learn skills and strategies for sharing their knowledge with their colleagues, greatly increasing the impact of the project.”

In addition to its new program for high school mathematics teachers, STREAM has ongoing opportunities for K-8 schools and individual teachers. To register for a course or for more information on the program, visit www.STREAMmath.org.

Contact: Jennifer Luebeck, (406) 994-5341 or luebeck@math.montana.edu