With $5.6M grant, UTA to support Texas middle grades math teachers

Project partners are Texas Instruments, DFW- and Houston-area ISDs, University of Missouri, Ohio University

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023 • Cristal Gonzalez : Contact

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From left, Amanda Olsen and Candace Joswick

The University of Texas at Arlington has received approximately $5.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary & Secondary Education (OESE) to support approximately 300 middle grades mathematics teachers in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston regions.

Two faculty members from UTA’s College of Education will oversee the three-year Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) multi-institutional grant from OESE. The principal investigator is Amanda Olsen, assistant professor of measurement and statistics. Candace Joswick, assistant professor of mathematics education, is co-principal investigator.

The project will cover all expenses for teachers’ participation, which will include a collaborative professional learning community, the use of Texas Instruments technology in their classrooms and enrollment in the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Mathematics Education degree program at UTA. The project’s impact will extend to approximately 40,000 middle school students in Texas.

“We know based on research that each prong of our project individually can support effective teaching,” said Olsen. “We are excited about their potential cumulative effects.”

In addition to the OESE funding, Texas Instruments is providing 25% in matching funds to provide teachers and students with the most current classroom technologies, as well as longitudinal coaching to integrate these technologies into their classrooms. Other grant partners include Christi Bergin, associate dean of research and innovation from the University of Missouri; Matt Felton-Koestler, associate professor of mathematics education from Ohio University; and Francis Huang, associate professor of statistics, measurement and evaluation in education from the University of Missouri.

One emphasis of the grant is to promote excellence and accessibility in schools, particularly in sixth- through eighth-grade mathematics. Olsen and Joswick emphasized that this period is critical for students’ mathematics development. The two will combine their expertise in school climate, program evaluation, student learning and teacher training to guide the project.

“We hear from our school and teacher partners about the current challenges they face in their classrooms related to mathematics content learning outcomes, student behaviors, professional burnout and more,” Joswick said. “Therefore, a goal of this project is to increase the number of middle school mathematics teachers who have the capacity and confidence to support their students’ changing content and behavioral needs—and who have a peer group to support that journey.”

The OESE works to meet the diverse needs of states and school districts through its vision of excellence and access for all students. Its SEED program aims to increase the number of highly effective educators by supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices that prepare, develop or enhance the skills of educators.

“We’re immensely proud of this work from Dr. Olsen and Dr. Joswick,” said Casey Graham Brown, acting dean of the college. “This grant is indicative of the caliber of our faculty, and it underscores the impact on classrooms and K-12 education that we strive to achieve every day.”