State workforce council cites UF-aided effort to advance crucial math-science teaching

  Posted July 26, 2010

An unprecedented partnership between Florida’s three major research universities–including the University of Florida, created in 2008 to stem the crisis in mathematics and science education in America’s schools, is generating both results and recognition for their efforts.

The state-funded effort, dubbed “Florida PROMiSE” (short for Partnership to Rejuvenate and Optimize Mathematics and Science Education), has been cited by Workforce Florida, Inc. for developing innovative professional development programs to increase teachers’ content knowledge and bring Florida teachers up to speed on new, rigorous Sunshine State Standards in math and science. Workforce Florida is the state’s workforce policy and oversight board largely appointed by Gov. Crist.

A business-led statewide council called STEMflorida, created in 2009 by Workforce Florida, will present its 2010 Instructional Staff Development Award to Florida PROMiSE officials on Monday, July 26, at the 2010 STEM Business and Education Conference in Lake Buena Vista.

“STEM” is common shorthand for the technical disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, considered vital workforce skills in today’s competitive global marketplace.

UF’s College of Education is one of the university partners in Florida PROMiSE along with Florida State University and the University of South Florida, which is administering the grant. The Florida Department of Education has funneled more than $21 million into the three-year effort, including nearly $8 million for 2010-11, the grant’s third and final year.

Teachers perform a math exercise at a UF-hosted summer institute, part of the Florida PROMiSE program.

Florida Promise Math Institute instructor Charlotte Cannizzaro assists teacher-participants in collaborating and sharing best practices in teaching math

This year’s funding includes more than $1 million to UF’s College of Education for its activities, which include developing and staging a series of two-week summer institutes and four days of follow-up training at a fall workshop for math and science teachers from partnering school districts.

“Findings from the first summer institutes in 2009 provide ample evidence that teachers who attended the institutes are making substantial gains in their content knowledge of mathematics and science,” said Stephen Pape, UF associate professor in mathematics education who coordinates UF’s Florida PROMiSE projects.

Pape said the findings also show participating teachers could benefit from the follow-up workshop in the fall to help them build on the institute experience and apply what they learned in their classrooms.

Stephen PapePape said the summer institute participants aren’t the only educators who benefit from the in-depth training. “More than 17,000 Florida teachers also receive professional development training about the new math and science standards using materials developed through the PROMiSE grant,” he said.

The three university partners in Florida PROMiSE work hand-in-hand with the state’s four largest school districts (Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval and Seminole) and with three regional, multi-county education consortia, Orlando-based Florida Virtual School and Horizon Research, Inc., a private research company based in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Pape said the three-year effort lays the groundwork for newly trained teacher-leaders to continue offering more sophisticated professional development activities after the funding period ends.

“Our ultimate goal,” Pape said, “is to help Florida produce a workforce proficient in the technical disciplines of mathematics and science needed for the jobs of tomorrow. We must advance our state’s advantage in the global competition for world-class talent in high-value technical industries.”



    SOURCE: Stephen Pape, associate professor, UF College of Education, 352-273-4230;

    WRITER: Larry Lansford, Director, UF COE News & Communications, 352-273-4137;