Math for America
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Math for America (MƒA) is a nonprofit organization, founded in January 2004 by mathematician Jim Simons with a mission to improve mathematics education in United States public schools by recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified secondary school mathematics teachers.
MƒA created four programs, the MƒA Fellowship, to increase the number of mathematically talented individuals going into teaching, the MƒA Early Career Fellowship and MƒA Master Teacher Fellowship to support outstanding mathematics teachers already in the classroom and the MƒA School Leader Fellowship to support experienced mathematics teachers who have moved into administrative positions and oversee mathematics instruction in their schools. MƒA was founded by mathematicians, educators, and business people who share the belief that improving teacher quality and keeping good teachers in the classroom will result in higher student achievement in mathematics.
The MƒA Fellowship and the MƒA Master Teacher Program were successfully piloted in New York City, where they continue to operate and are used as models for the creation of MƒA programs in other cities. The Programs were also the models used to bolster a new National Science Foundation Fellowship Teaching Program to substantially increase the corps of highly qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers.
MƒA Programs in New York City
MƒA in New York, founded in 2004, is the pilot site of all other MƒA sites in the United States, with a mission to recruit, train, and retain highly qualified secondary math teachers. Since its inception, MƒA is working to establish a corps of quality secondary mathematics teachers in New York City, which has the nation’s largest public school district. MƒA uses a rigorous screening process to select mathematically talented individuals for its programs.
The MƒA Fellowship in New York City (formerly known as the Newton Fellowship Program) is a five-year program for mathematically sophisticated, recent college graduates and mid-career professionals who are interested in using their talents to make a difference in the lives of young people by teaching secondary school mathematics in New York City public schools. Prospective candidates are screened through a rigorous application process, including a standardized test that measures mathematical content knowledge.
Once selected, Fellows commit to a five-year program. In year one, Fellows earn a masters degree in mathematics education and in years two through five they teach in a New York City public secondary school.
The Fellowship includes a full tuition scholarship to one of MƒA New York’s partner university, the opportunity to earn New York State Teaching Certification and a New York City teacher’s salary, a stipend of $100,000 over five years in addition to the teaching salary, mentoring and professional development services, and camaraderie with a group of teachers who know and love math.
MƒA Master Teacher Program
The MƒA Master Teacher Program is a four-year program designed to retain exceptional public secondary school mathematics teachers currently teaching in New York City. The program’s purpose is to recognize mathematics teachers who demonstrate solid mathematical knowledge and have outstanding performance records. Prospective candidates also go through a rigorous application process that includes the same standardized testing required of Fellows. The program includes stipends totaling $60,000; presents opportunities for professional development, leadership, and collaboration with other professionals; and gives recipients the opportunity to work with Fellows to help ensure success for these newcomers to the field.
The MƒA Fellowship and Master Teacher Program are based on three key principles:
- To teach math effectively one needs strong knowledge of mathematics, solid pedagogical skills, and a disposition well suited for the classroom.
- By providing strong support services, including continuing education and professional development, it is possible to inspire a commitment to long-term careers as mathematics teachers.
- With appropriate incentives, including enhanced remuneration, it is possible to not only recruit mathematically qualified men and women who might not have otherwise entered the teaching field, but also to retain outstanding mathematics teachers who might otherwise have left the field.
MƒA is now focused on establishing a national MƒA Corps of highly qualified and well-trained mathematics teachers. In partnership with organizations that also recognize a need for increased STEM initiatives, MƒA will expand nationally. MƒA will continue to recruit Fellows and Master Teachers locally and aggressively recruit additional partner sites whose leaders are passionate about the need for increased STEM initiatives in the United States. Through continued advocacy and collaboration with State and Federal governments, educational institutions, foundations, and other stakeholders, MƒA intends to expand its programs throughout the nation.
In 2007, MƒA welcomed two new partner sites, MƒA Los Angeles and MƒA San Diego. In 2009, MfA DC was established, and new sites have now been added at Boston, Berkeley, and Utah. All sites have missions, program approaches, and goals similar to that of MƒA New York.
MƒA Los Angeles
The University of Southern California, Claremont Graduate University, and Harvey Mudd College have joined together with MƒA to create MƒA Los Angeles (MƒA LA). The goal of MƒA LA is to raise student mathematics achievement by recruiting and supporting highly skilled secondary mathematics teachers in the greater Los Angeles area.
MƒA San Diego
MƒA San Diego (MƒA SD) is a consortium of Cal State San Marcos, San Diego State University, and the University of California at San Diego, and six school districts in the region. MƒA SD's mission is to improve student learning of mathematics by providing selected teachers (MƒA Fellows) with extensive professional support in their credential year and in their first four years of teaching.
MƒA DC (MƒA DC) is a consortium of American University and the Carnegie Institution for Science. MƒA DC's goal is to train math teachers for the DC public schools. MfA Fellows complete a 15 month program at American University, and then teach in a DC public or public charter school for 4 years. Fellows are financially supported and professional development is provided for all five years.
MƒA Boston is a partnership of Boston University, MIT, Boston College, and Education Development Center, Inc (EDC), working together to improve student engagement, interest, and achievement in mathematics by recruiting, training and retaining expert teachers of mathematics in Boston area schools. MƒA Boston supports these teachers within a professional community of teachers, mathematicians, and education researchers who collaborate on a range of educational leadership activities and keep mathematics and mathematical problem solving at their core.
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