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The Montana Math and Science Teacher Initiative

Timeline of Activities

August 15, 2008: Group empanelled to initiate discussion and create plan for state response. Invitation to broad stakeholder group as steering committee members sent by G.M. Dennison, The University of Montana; G. Gamble, Montana State University; Sheila Stearns, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), and Linda McCulloch, Office of Public Instruction (OPI), subsequently replaced by Denise Juneau.

October 3, 2008: MMSTI Steering Committee meeting held (conference call). Goals determined: 1. conduct data collection and analyses to assess situation of math and science education in Montana; 2. identify problems, barriers, and opportunities statewide; 3. propose solutions for Montana; and 4. develop a plan of action.

October 2008 – January 2009: Began data collection and analyses to determine/assess the needs of the state.
Overview of Data Collection Process to Date:

  1. Sought from all institutions: annual production by major in math/science teacher education programs (MUS units, Carroll College, Rocky Mountain College, University of Great Falls, and Salish Kootenai College);

  2. From OPI: number of math and science teaching licenses issued annually by class and endorsement;

  3. From OPI: identification of the number and instructional areas of mis-assigned K-12 teachers reported by school districts;

  4. From TRS: projected retirements by endorsement area; and

  5. Number of annual vacancies for math and science teachers posted on MUS Career Services and OPI websites.

February 3, 2009: MMSTI Steering Committee meeting (Helena). Reviewed data collected to date and identified caveats in data collection process; expanded data collection processes across stakeholder groups (OCHE, OPI, higher education units providing teacher education programs, MEA/MFT, Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Montana Science Teachers Association, Montana School Boards Association, Montana Rural Educational Association, and School Administrators of Montana); galvanized state leadership and support for the initiative.

May 1, 2009: MMSTI Steering Committee meeting (Helena). Provided data update and identified database systems’ conflicts; revised OPI’s Personnel Recruitment and Retention Report (conducted annually during fall for school districts) to include specific questions regarding critical shortage teaching areas and initiated survey of teachers through membership of the Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Montana Science Teachers Association.

  • Invited presentation – Noah Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Colorado – Boulder:
    • Presented information regarding STEM Colorado initiatives (NSF - CUTeach, Noyce Fellowships, Innovation through Institutional Integration grant, Learning Assistant Model);
    • Critiqued Montana’s progress to date and noted exceptional assets (unique alliance of key stakeholders committed to supporting MMSTI partnerships statewide and unprecedented data-sharing);
    • Offered suggestions for subsequent strategic planning efforts.

August 19, 2009: Steering Committee meeting (Salmon Lake, Montana Island Lodge). Presentation of MMSTI Road Map designed to outline strategic planning and guide development of initiative. Review of data collected through survey distributed to members of the Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Montana Science Teachers Association. Presentation of Discovery Research Grant by Dr. Yopp, Montana State University. Discussion of alignment of data collection efforts to support MMSTI through OCHE and OPI with recommendations to initiate state systematic data collection efforts with the nine campuses offering teacher education programs (K-12); Breakout sessions to facilitate strategic planning:

  • Professional Development Academy
  • P-20 Learning Assistant Model
  • Department of Education Funding Opportunity – Race to the Top

September, 2009:

  • Professional Development Academy launched in Missoula:
    • Collaborative effort to enhance partnerships between The University of Montana and Missoula County Public School District; pilot model to be replicated in Bozeman with MSU and Bozeman County Public School District;
    • P-20 Learning Assistant Model : Modeled after UC Boulder; focus on intra-institutional collaboration with College of Arts and Science and College of Education; pilot model to be replicated at MSU.

October 2009:

  • Montana Council of Deans unanimously approves recommendation to initiate state systematic data collection process;
  • Nine campuses will report annual production by major data at the end of each semester;
  • Data from MUS campuses will be shared with OCHE and aligned with Department of Labor data to identify the number of graduates who work in the state and in what capacity.

November 18, 2009: Steering Committee meeting (MSU, Bozeman, MT). Presentation of national background – Robert Compton’s 2 Million Minutes; ACT/SAT data presented by Jan Clinard, OCHE; review of professional development activities offered through OPI; updates on Common Core Standards and Montana’s response from Maurice Burke, MSU; presentation of expansion of key stakeholders by Darrell Rud, Executive Director of School Administrators of Montana; updates on Race to the Top from Governor Schweitzer’s office; next steps (please see attachment Next Steps 11-18-09).

March 24, 2010: Steering Committee meeting (Montana School Board Association, Helena, MT). Data presented from OPI based on their Annual Data Collection report regarding recruitment and retention, and teacher misassignment in math and science subject areas. OPI data indicated there is not a “shortage” of math and science educators in Montana and the MMSTI Steering Committee should focus on improving teacher quality for pre-service and in-service teachers; note: math and science are still on OPI’s Critical Quality Educator Shortage list ranking 4th and 6th respectively (2010); presentations from Dr. Robert Bargatze, Vice President of LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals (our first representative from the private sector, Dr. Robert Bargatze); Dr. Bargatze shared his interest in supporting math and science education in Montana and offered helpful suggestions to enhance further collaboration between MMSTI and the Biotechnology community; Robert Currie presented the Montana Digital Academy (MDA) and offered suggestions for alignment with MDA and MMSTI to support in-service professional development opportunities for teachers in rural areas; Dr. Rick Billstein, The University of Montana, presented Enhancing Middle School Student Mathematics Achievement through Expanded Teacher Knowledge (EMMA) – this project proposes a Master’s degree for middle school mathematics teachers; the meeting concluded with next steps and follow up charges.

Dr. James J Hirstein

Professor of Mathematics

The University of Montana

james.hirstein@umontana.edu

406-243-2661