The Teaching Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University (WOU) has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Oregon Department of Education to recruit and educate 60 teachers to become Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leaders. Project DEMILO (Developing Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leaders in Oregon) is a collaboration between WOU, the Willamette Education Service District, and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub to address the need for increased mathematics content knowledge for elementary school teachers.
WOU is the first university in Oregon to offer an Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) approved program leading to an Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leader specialization According to Dr. Cheryl Beaver, the Project Director, “underachievement in math in elementary school becomes a barrier for students who wish to pursue STEM jobs or a STEM college major.”
Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leaders (EMIL) are teachers, teacher leaders or coaches who are responsible for supporting effective mathematics instruction and student learning in the classroom, school, district and/or state levels. Their specific roles will vary depending upon their school district, but all EMILs will act as a resource and provide leadership to their colleagues – a critical and timely role as the state fully implements the new Common Core State Standards in Mathematics
The strategies used in Project DEMILO to provide professional development for teachers in mathematics have been successfully used by the Oregon Coast STEM Hub to increase elementary students’ achievement in science. These strategies are an integral part of this project. “Given the time constraints of teachers and the distance challenges of living on the coast or in rural locations, using online and web-video conferencing for professional development is necessary,” noted Ruth McDonald, Partnerships Coordinator, Oregon Coast STEM Hub.
Over the course of three years, three cohorts of 20 teachers will complete the EMIL specialization and employ their instructional leadership to help elementary students succeed and to meet Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal. “For 40% of Oregon’s students to have some post-secondary education and another 40% to attain a bachelor’s degree, they will need to have a strong conceptual understanding of math,” stated Beaver. “The U.S. is predicted to need an additional 1 million STEM professionals by 2020. This project helps us contribute to closing that gap.”
The mission of the Teaching Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University is to inform and facilitate change in educational and human service systems to improve the quality of life for individuals. In existence for over 50 years, TRI is guided by partnerships with consumers, families, and practitioners. TRI houses seven Centers focused conducting programs of research, developing evidence-based interventions that are provided through technical assistance and professional development, and increasing system capacity to effect change. TRI manages a yearly grants’ expenditures budget of $7–$7.5 million of extramural funds and houses 58 staff.
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Information about how Oregon Coast STEM Hub teachers can participate in Project DEMILO will be coming soon and shared through the Oregon Coast STEM Hub network.