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MN Department of Education launches new Math & Science Teacher Academy

The Minnesota Department of Education has announced the creation of the Minnesota Mathematics and Science Teacher Academy that will focus on improving mathematics and science instruction and learning through ongoing, quality professional development statewide.

The Academy is comprised of nine regional Teacher Centers throughout the state, each including at least one K-12 school district or education service cooperative, and one higher education institution. The Centers are located in Thief River Falls, Mountain Iron, Fergus Falls, Staples, Marshall, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester and Plymouth.

The Math and Science Teacher Academy is a result of Governor Pawlenty's efforts to improve teacher effectiveness, especially in the areas of math and science. Funding for the program was approved during the 2007 legislative session. Additional money was made available through a grant from the National Governors Association.

"Math and science education are central to Minnesota's efforts to prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century," Pawlenty said. "By providing teachers with the professional development needed to become more effective in the classroom, the Teacher Academy is a vital component in our goal of taking Minnesota students from nation-leading to world competing."

The nine centers will provide training and technical assistance to help teachers successfully implement Minnesota's content standards, master the use of multiple instructional approaches to differentiate instruction and engage students, and improve skills to diagnose student learning needs using assessment of student performance.

Districts in each region will send teams of teachers to one of the nine Centers for summer training, using a train-the-trainer model. These certified trainers will then train teachers in their district and surrounding region to reach teachers across the state. Academy activities during the initial year will focus on improvement of mathematics teaching and learning. Components of each region's plan include:

-- A professional development module to assist teachers--through yearlong Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) -- in delivering the new algebra standards to students in grades 6-8.

-- A work plan and budget describing how the 6-8 algebra professional development module and accompanying technical assistance will be delivered throughout the region.

-- A commitment to deliver an additional professional development module for K-12 mathematics teachers.

-- A committed partnership between K-12 and a Minnesota institution of higher education to build capacity for ongoing professional development in the region.

"After parents, teachers have the biggest impact on student success," Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said. "The Math and Science Teacher Academy will help to better prepare Minnesota teachers for success in the classroom as they continue to prepare our students for success after high school."