American Museum Of Natural History Joins National Effort To Transform Math And Science Education As Recommended By New Carnegie Corporation Commission Report
The American Museum of Natural History added its support to the Carnegie Corporation of New York-Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education in its call to "do school differently," kicked off by today's release of the Commission's report The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy. Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and a member of the Carnegie Commission, joined prominent educators, funders, policymakers, mathematicians, and scientists to present the Commission's findings at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, June 10.
The Commission's report details what innovations are needed and who must implement them to transform math and science education in America. The report also highlights success stories that can serve as models for improvement. One of the major recommendations, building community assets into schools through intensive partnerships with math and science institutions, specifically credits the Urban Advantage Middle School Science Initiative spearheaded by AMNH with producing "significant learning gains in middle grades science."
"We are at a unique moment in history," said Ellen V. Futter. "There is a powerful confluence of the President's leadership in education, the Commission's report, and the growing recognition of the critical nature of science and mathematics education to our country's long-term prosperity. It yields a clarion call for all sectors of our society to mobilize and work together in new ways to address the challenge of improving science and math education.
"Partnership programs like Urban Advantage are exemplars of this mobilization, broadening the definition of the 'schoolhouse' to encompass the assets and expertise of science-based cultural institutions like ours, and working in tandem with school systems and government to elevate teaching and learning on the local and national level. These programs also prepare the next generation to enter the 21st century workforce."
The Commission report provides a roadmap for the transformation of the nation's education system and clearly illustrates the roles various sectors must play if the U.S. is to ensure every student has knowledge and skills from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics upon high school graduation. The report praises AMNH and the Museum of Science in Boston as "leaders in a growing universe of museums that are developing new curricula and professional learning resources." The report goes on to cite Urban Advantage as a program "giving hundreds of thousands of students and teachers access to museum collections and staff expertiselong with powerful insights into what people find most fascinating about science."
Urban Advantage is guiding teachers and students on how best to use the incomparable science resources and expertise of eight New York institutions: the American Museum of Natural History, which spearheaded and also leads the initiative; Brooklyn Botanic Garden; The New York Botanical Garden; New York Hall of Science; Queens Botanical Garden; Staten Island Zoological Society; and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.
Urban Advantage, now under the umbrella of the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning at AMNH, has grown dramatically since its inception in 2004 to include 24,793 students and 257 teachers from 147 schools throughout New York City, serving all five boroughs. The Urban Advantage program directly addresses two major issues in New York City education: the critical shortage of teachers with adequate qualifications and preparation in science, and the challenge of preparing 8th-grade students for their science "exit projects," a city-mandated performance requirement.
According to a preliminary evaluation of the program, 77 percent of participating teachers reported signs of improvement in the quality of Urban Advantage students' knowledge of science content, 81 percent of students reported that their experience with exit projects had increased their ability to understand scientific ideas, and 80 percent of teachers reported an increase in students' interest in science as a result of visits to UA institutions and implementation of exit projects. Based on the 2007 and 2008 results from the New York State Intermediate Level Science Assessment, Urban Advantage Demonstration Schools reported higher gains in student achievement than the citywide average.
Public support for the Urban Advantage program is provided by the Speaker and Council of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Education, and an anonymous donor.
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