This collaborative effort between the Clark County School District and the State of Nevada provides innovative measures to reform elementary science and mathematics education for grades K-5. This project is a systemic reform initiative that is grounded in a vision of inquiry learning, based on research and National Standards and supported by Clark Country School District personnel, scientists, educators, and community leaders. The project is designed to increase student learning in mathematics and science by enhancing teachers' and administrators' knowledge of science and mathematics content, pedagogy and learning research.
The Clark County School District is located in Las Vegas, Nevada and is the 9th largest school district in the country. The district covers 7,910 square miles and has 181 schools in urban and rural settings, 127 of which are K-5. The student population has a wide range of socioeconomic levels with 65 of the schools considered to have high-needs students. This school district is constantly growing in size with a disproportionately high number of disadvantaged students. This trend is expected to continue and as a result, the district faces a continuous challenge of tailoring the curriculum to meet the needs of its students.
This five year project is a continuation of the NSF-supported Mathematics and Science Enhancement (MASE) Project I. MASE II enlarges the circle of educators and community members who are advancing reform efforts and shaping the learning environment in each K-5 school and ultimately in the state of Nevada. MASE II engages all 2,040 teachers in 60 schools. It is centered around six teachers on Special Assignment, 80 MASE teacher leaders and 20 MASE Administrators. Teachers are engaged in 100 hours of professional development over the course of three years. Approximately 40 of the 100 hours are based in the classroom setting.
The professional training of the project involves teachers learning mathematics and/or science content through inquiry. In addition, teachers interview children, observe exemplary teaching, make conjectures, work with their own children, and come back together to share results and plan.
Aside from increasing teachers' and administrators' understanding of mathematics and science content and pedagogy, other goals have been established by MASE II: 1) infuse exemplary curriculum and resources materials into all schools; 2) increase the pool of knowledgeable teacher leaders to meet the growing demand for substantive on-going professional development; 3) increase the involvement of parents in information and hands-on sessions; and most importantly, 4) provide quality mathematics and science education for all students as evidenced through improved teaching methods, increased student performance, and enhanced quality of learning.
Important partners and alliances of this project include the Nevada State Department of Education, Scientists from the Department of Energy, Desert Research Institute and University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Women and Science and Engineering Program and Lied Discovery Children's Museum.