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Claflin University Start-Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science (CUSP-IMS)

Overview:

The Claflin University Start Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science (CUSP-IMS) is focusing on development of a sustainable infrastructure and a model for an integrative approach to deepen students' conceptual knowledge and improve their achievement in mathematics and science at the elementary school level in South Carolina. The partnership brings together science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education faculty and researchers at Claflin University and Voorhees College (both of which are minority-serving institutions) with public school educators and curriculum developers in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 and Bamberg School District 2, located in rural settings in one of the most underserved regions in South Carolina. The CUSP-IMS project is enhancing Claflin University's and Voorhees College's existing collaborations with local school districts, as well as expanding the partnership to include additional minority-serving colleges and universities and non-urban, underserved school districts.

The project is exploring creative and transformative strategies for building a cohesive partnership to design, implement, and evaluate curricular materials that integrate mathematics with science, and to prepare teachers with the necessary pedagogical and content knowledge to use the materials effectively. The MSP-Start Partnership planning period is being used to conduct a needs assessment and design a strategic plan for a suite of activities that include, 1) review of existing elementary school science and mathematics curricula and classroom experiences and the extent of their alignment with project goals; 2) assessment of teachers' most critically important professional development needs, particularly as they relate to mathematics and science content; 3) development of evaluation tools that will improve the science and mathematics achievement of elementary school students in the rural communities served by the partnering institutions; 4) evaluation of the district partners' resources to achieve the project goals and how they are being distributed; and 5) establishment of a set of working guidelines and core values from which the developing partnership will operate. The evaluation of the CUSP-IMS is using qualitative and quantitative approaches to document the process of developing a sustainable partnership model, and the readiness to develop a full MSP-Targeted Partnership project.