In an effort to increase coordination and understanding between high school and higher education mathematics programs, several area math educators met recently at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) to discuss curriculum needs, testing issues and learning expectations from both the high school and college perspectives. The meeting is part of a pilot project created as a collaborative effort between Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
During the afternoon meeting, Chickasha middle and high school educators learned about math placement tests and policies at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Cameron University. In addition, the middle school and high school educators were given samples of college algebra exams and class syllabi as they discussed common math objectives and learning expectations.
In return, college faculty were shown various middle school and high school curriculum requirements mandated by the state including the Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry sections of the Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS), Oklahoma's core curriculum mandated by the state legislature, and sample test items from the Algebra I End of Instruction (EOI) test, a state mandated test to assess what students know and can do in Algebra I. In addition, the group discussed the new accountability measures required by the No Child Left Behind Act.
“This sort of interaction between middle school, high school and university educators is crucial to providing Oklahoma students with the best possible educational opportunities,” said Chancellor Paul G. Risser. “In a time when all of public education has straining resources, it is imperative that we look to each other to provide support for our common goal of educating students.”
Several ideas for partnerships emerged from the meeting, including higher education faculty visiting high schools to share with students the high expectations of college faculty. In addition, the Chickasha educators and higher education faculty agreed that further dialogue about math curriculum should be planned.
Chickasha High School and Middle School faculty in attendance were Tammy Williams, Barbara Cole, Donna York, Mandy Byrd, Phyllis Jefferson, Todd Stevens and Brenda Henry.
Higher education faculty in attendance were Dr. Shirley Goos, Cameron University; Dr. Paul Goodey and Dr. Nancy Matthews, University of Oklahoma; Dr. Mike Dougherty, Dr. John Woods and Dr. Gerry East, Southwestern Oklahoma State University; and Dr. Nancy Warden, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
“The goal of the pilot project is to enhance K-16 mathematics preparation in Oklahoma. An educated workforce with strong skills in math and science will help create a knowledge-based economy and strengthen Oklahoma’s economic growth,” said Risser. “This meeting is a good start in establishing open, team-building communication between public school and college educators. The hope is to construct a consistent mathematics curriculum that builds and aligns from middle school to high school and bridges into college.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.