2007-2008

WPI a Partner in $13.2 Million Program to Improve Math, Science Education in Massachusetts


The National Math and Science Initiative has awarded Massachusetts and Mass Insight Education and Research Institute a $13.2 million grant to increase the number of students enrolling in AP courses and earning AP college credit in science and mathematics. WPI is playing a key role in this program, and WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey serves as a member of the project's Board of Trustees.

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has awarded Massachusetts and the non-profit Mass Insight Education and Research Institute a $13.2 million grant to bolster the number of students enrolling in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and earning AP college credit in science and mathematics. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will play a key role in the program, and WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey serves as a member of the project’s Board of Trustees.

The grant results from a nationwide competition to expand the successful program developed in Texas by the NMSI, with sponsorship primarily from Exxon Mobil Corp. Its goal is to increase the number of middle and high school students enrolling in rigorous science and mathematics courses, leading to successful pre-college achievement on the national AP exams. Twenty-nine states submitted proposals, from which seven winners were selected.

A principal component of the Massachusetts initiative is the establishment of five regional development centers focusing on both the content knowledge and instruction skills necessary to teach math and science in the 21st century. The Central Massachusetts Center, to be located in Worcester, will be a partnership among WPI, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Framingham State College, and the district schools. Joining President Berkey as key members of the leadership team will be James Caradonio, superintendent of Worcester Public Schools; Paul Reville (trustee), chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education; and Jack Wilson (trustee) president of the University of Massachusetts.

The funds will go toward training and incentive programs for Pre-AP® and AP® courses and exams over the next six years. This initiative is supported by research which demonstrates that students who have access to strong AP® programs are more prepared to do college level work in math, science, and engineering. Specifically, the grant will support teacher preparation, identification and cultivation of lead teachers, additional time on task for students, and financial incentives based on academic results.

"Raising expectations is key to improving performance in the critically important areas of math and science," said Berkey. "This grant is excellent news for Massachusetts because it means that our next generation will be especially well prepared to compete at a world class level in such critical areas as engineering, the life sciences and biotechnology. WPI enthusiastically brings a wealth of experience to the creation of the Central Massachusetts Regional Development Center, and I am pleased and honored to serve as trustee to the program."

NMSI is an innovative non-profit organization created to scale programs proven to positively impact math and science education in the United States. The NMSI was designed to help America maintain its global leadership position in technological innovation. Launched in March 2007, NMSI was developed in response to the call for action by the National Academies' 2005 blue ribbon panel report on the need to improve American students' performance in math and science coursework, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

About the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI)

NMSI is an innovative non-profit organization created to scale programs proven to positively impact math and science education in the United States. For more information about NMSI, please visit their Web site at www.nationalmathandscience.org.

About Mass Insight Education and Research Institute

Mass Insight Education and Research Institute is an independent non-profit organization that works with public schools, higher education, and state government to improve student achievement. For more information on Mass Insight, please visit www.massinsight.org.

About The Great Schools Campaign

Building on the first decade of education reform, The Great Schools Campaign is a coalition of business, civic and education leaders, which was formed in 2005, to develop new goals and targeted investments linked to new reforms. The Great Schools Campaign is organized by Mass Insight and chaired by Paul Grogan, president, The Boston Foundation; and Gloria Larson, president, Bentley College.

September 7, 2007

Contact: Eileen Brangan Mell, Director of Public Relations, +1-508-831-6785, ebmell@wpi.edu