UIC researchers get $4.7 million to improve K-8 math teaching in south suburbs

The project will be a collaboration among researchers and teachers in four school districts in the Oak Lawn and Alsip area.

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Alison Castro Superfine

Alison Castro Superfine


University of Illinois at Chicago researchers received $4.7 million from the National Science Foundation to create a professional development program for educators in the south suburbs.

The five-year Elementary Mathematics Leadership program is intended for K-8 math teachers in four school districts near Oak Lawn and Alsip. Researchers have already begun meeting with school districts this summer and plan to start collecting data from teachers and schools this fall.

Alison Castro Superfine, the project’s lead researcher and UIC professor of mathematics education and learning sciences, said the program aims to improve understandings of effective math teaching and learning for teachers and school and district administrators.

“A number of different schools and districts are really trying to think about how they can better support teachers, teacher leaders and school principals in trying to understand how Common Core mathematics can look in the classroom and how to ultimately improve student learning,” Superfine said.

Superfine said the project is meant to be collaborative between the researchers and community stakeholders.

“The idea is that the district administrators, the school administrators and the teachers are all meant to be collaborators in the entire process of the project,” Superfine said. “Instead of a university coming to a school saying, ‘Hey, we have this bright, shiny thing that we’d like you to implement, because we think it’s really great.’ And then they implement it and as soon as the research money goes away, things go back to what they were before.”

Because this type of research and implementation is complex and requires knowledge from multiple disciplines, Superfine said the grant money will be a big help.

“It’s a lot of money to do something that other projects haven’t been able to do, which is to actually collaborate with four districts,” she said.

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