State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the Department of Public Instruction will provide $500,000 in grants to improve mathematics instruction and learning in North Dakota’s schools.
The “Greater Math in North Dakota” program is designed to help teachers remedy “learning gaps” in students’ math knowledge. A learning gap refers to a math skill a student should know but doesn’t. Math instruction in elementary and secondary school builds upon itself, and if a student lacks a strong foundation in basic math skills, he or she may have difficulty learning more advanced concepts.
The Greater Math in North Dakota initiative will be focused on math instruction in grades 3-8. Baesler said the grants will provide teachers outside expertise and support to help identify and close student math learning gaps.
Recent student mathematics test results on the North Dakota State Assessment and the National Assessment of Educational Progress have been unsatisfactory overall, an issue that predated the COVID-19 pandemic. The Greater Math in North Dakota grants are being financed by federal aid that is intended to address learning shortfalls.
“We see Greater Math in North Dakota as a way to address gaps in student math knowledge, and as a way to increase their personal growth and math proficiency,” Baesler said. “It also offers math educators advice and tools for strengthening their instruction. The knowledge we gain can be applied statewide.”
The Greater Math approach will use individual student instruction and “blended learning,” which describes both traditional classroom instruction and online learning.
Grant recipients will receive support from REL Central, an education research organization, as well as the Department of Public Instruction, regional education associations, local teams of math educators, and other partners.
School districts must apply for a Greater Math in North Dakota grant. Applications will be reviewed and ranked, and not every applicant will receive a grant, said Brooklyn Schaan, the NDDPI’s program administrator.
The department has reserved $500,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds for the program. Grants are expected to range from $50,000 to $250,000 for two years, with a $250,000 limit. Applications are due at midnight on Thursday, Dec. 8, with grant awards announced later that month. An application forms and information are posted on the NDDPI website.