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Mathworks Receives Meadows Foundation Grant To Boost R&D Of Middle School Mathematics

February 28, 2014 - San Marcos, TX 
 
The Meadows Foundation of Dallas, Texas, has awarded a continuation grant of $153,000 grant to the Mathworks center at Texas State University to support the research and implementation model for the Mathworks Algebra Program (MAP). This follows the first grant of the same amount that was awarded in October of 2012. This newest grant will support Texas State math faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to research and develop the support elements that are required for a successful implementation of the Math Explorations (ME) curriculum.  Three core development activities will be supported: 1) Formalization of the Mathworks teacher training model, 2) Establishment of a Mathworks Math Academiesreplication model and 3) Creation of the "Critical Elements of Success" model for a district to create a successful mathematics program. Other foundations providing support for MAP include the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, KDK-Harman Foundation, Kodosky Foundation, and  the KLE Foundation.
 
The Mathworks teacher training model will be enhanced by the creation of video modules that highlight exemplary teaching and learning moments.  This work engages Texas State Math Education Ph.D. students with Mathworks faculty to give them hands-on experiences in analyzing classroom teaching.  The Mathworks Math Academies will be a "camp in a box" version of the acclaimed Junior Summer Math Camps (JSMC) that have been held in San Marcos for 20 years. These Math Academies will allow districts to provide quality summer learning programs to their students, preparing them for the upcoming school year.  The "Critical Elements of Success" will outline how districts can successfully implement the ME curriculum, engaging administrators, teachers, and parents, and ultimately building thriving middle school math programs across the state.  Collectively, these integrated models provide a framework for school districts to take on the challenge of preparing all students for success in algebra and beyond.
 
Algebra I is one of the required math classes students in Texas must pass before they graduate high school.  However, for many students, a lack of a strong pre-algebra foundation means that a high percentage of students flounder in algebra when they are thrust into that class.  The ME curriculum gives all students the opportunity to build a strong pre-algebra foundation, significantly increasing their readiness for algebra.  The three book series uniquely weaves in algebraic concepts starting in the 6th  and 7th  grades, giving students two full years of pre-algebra before they take on Algebra I in the 8th  grade.  Visual models, such as number lines, balance beams, and fraction rectangles, are used throughout the curriculum.  In this way, students learn the language of algebra with concrete models and hands-on activities, developing connections between the abstract and the real-world.
 
In December 2013, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) placed the Math Explorations curriculum on the state adoption list. ME is one of only ten middle school math curricula recently approved by the TEA and State Board of Education (SBOE) under Proclamation 2014, which called for instructional materials in math, science, and technology applications.  In addition, Math Explorations was the only approved math curriculum published by a university and authored entirely by mathematics and mathematics education professors from the same institution. These materials will be available for use in the 2014-2015 school year. 
 
Bruce Esterline, the Vice-President for Grants at the Meadows Foundation, said, “We are excited to be supporting the Mathworks Algebra Program (MAP) at Texas State University and have high hopes for the potential that it holds for mathematics education across the state.  Algebra is a gateway subject.  Get it right and it opens the door to higher math skills in high school and thus opens the door to college.  Don’t get it right and it makes everything else much more difficult.  MAP introduces algebraic concepts early and often and even makes it fun.  MAP is a key to opening lots of doors for all young students, while preparing them for careers in math, science, and technology.  This program exemplifies the Meadows mission of improving the quality and circumstances of life for our young students and future generations.“
 
Mathworks director Max Warshauer described the impact of the grant from the Meadows Foundation: "We are honored and excited to be awarded this continuation grant from the Meadows Foundation. Research shows that developing students' abilities in mathematics involves much more than giving each child a textbook. This grant provides tremendous support for Mathworks to identify, strengthen, and enhance the key components of the Mathworks Algebra Program (MAP), which we characterize as the ‘Critical Elements of Success.’  Now that the Math Explorations curriculum has been adopted by the state, we are focused on building a model that would enable any district to successfully implement this curriculum to raise the level of math achievement for all of their students.  The Critical Elements of Success will provide a roadmap for this successful implementation."
 
 
About Mathworks
Mathworks is a center for mathematics education at Texas State University with core initiatives of Curriculum Development, Teacher Professional Development, and Summer Math Programs. The Mathworks curriculum, Math Explorations, is a series of textbooks designed to give middle school students of all backgrounds a strong pre-algebra foundation, preparing them for success in algebra and higher-level courses.  For more information about Mathworks, see txstate.edu/mathworks.
 
About the Meadows Foundation
The Meadows Foundation exists to assist people and institutions of Texas improve the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations.  The Foundation strives to exemplify the principles of its founder in addressing basic human needs by working toward the elimination of ignorance, hopelessness and suffering, protecting the environment, providing cultural enrichment, encouraging excellence and promoting understanding and cooperation among people.  For more information about the Foundation, see www.mfi.org.