November 07, 2007 10:18 ET

Grant to Strengthen K-4 Math Instruction in Tennessee

Tennessee State University and ETS to Partner on Project

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - November 7, 2007) - Tennessee State University (TSU) and ETS have been awarded $2 million for the first year of a five-year project to work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Tennessee to improve elementary school teaching and learning of mathematics. The goal of this project is to develop educational models that will not only help improve math proficiency in Tennessee's elementary schools, but potentially across the nation.

The project is called Strengthening Instruction in Tennessee Elementary Schools - Focus on Mathematics (SITES-M). The funds will be used to deliver and assess professional development programs to help current K-4 teachers instruct their students in math.

The program -- developed at the request of the Legislative Black Caucus -- is the latest result of a 25-year-old, on-going collaboration between ETS and HBCUs. Tennessee House Representative Tommie Brown of Chattanooga, Vice-Chair House Education Committee and Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee, is the leading person among members of the Caucus with whom ETS has worked on this initiative. In addition, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen was directly involved in the early stages of program development and continues to support the initiative.

The success of the first year of this five-year project will be tracked through pre- and post-testing of the K-4 teachers involved in the program and by measuring their pupils' math proficiency on standardized tests.

"Through many years of analyzing student achievement, it is clear that some basic ideas are key to closing achievement gaps among social classes and race/ethnic groups," says Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President of ETS's Policy Evaluation & Research Center. "Starting in early grades, students need to be exposed to interesting and meaningful content through instruction that is effective in capturing their attention and inspiring commitment to working inside and outside of the classroom. At the end of five years, incorporating these key elements will help us provide an effective educational model for mathematics instruction and assessment in elementary schools that offers hope for closing achievement gaps."

Funds for this project will also be used to create professional development study materials that will be provided to project participants and shared with other interested educators and parents. The project Web site will also be the medium used to reach non-participating elementary school teachers in Tennessee.

"Tennessee State University is extremely pleased to partner with ETS and our sister institutions in this extraordinary effort to improve math performance in our public schools," says Melvin Johnson, President of Tennessee State University. "The Tennessee State Legislature is commended for its foresight and willingness to address this compelling statewide need. I truly believe that this project has the potential to become a national model."

ETS will provide project leadership and guidance in concert with TSU and the other Tennessee HBCUs in the organization of Saturday math workshops, a summer math institute, Framework Observation training and assessments of pupil learning, and pre- and post-testing for summer institute participants.

Lane College, LeMoyne Owen College, Knoxville College, and Fisk University will provide faculty members for the SITES-M leadership team while campus officials will receive and monitor funds and sites for Saturday math workshops.

About ETS

ETS celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. In 2006, ETS developed, administered and scored more than 50 million assessments in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide and had consolidated revenues of $836 million dollars. Additional information is available at

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University has grown dramatically from a small college to two campuses: The 450-acre main campus and the downtown Avon Williams campus, located in the heart of Nashville, near the State capitol. The diverse student population of more than 9,000 represents 46 states and 45 countries. TSU has been listed for 11 consecutive years in the U.S. News & World Report "Guide to America's Best Colleges."

Tennessee State University is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational land-grant university offering 45 bachelor's degrees and 24 master degrees. Doctoral programs include biological sciences, psychology, public administration, computer information systems engineering, administration and supervision, and curriculum and instruction.

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