Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the authorizing statute for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program (MSP)?

Title II, Part B Sec. 2201, 2202, and 2203 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

2. What is the purpose of the program?

The Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) program funds professional development activities that are designed to improve teachers’ content knowledge and teaching skills, and that lead to improved student learning. Partnerships must include faculty from the mathematics, sciences, technology and/or engineering faculty of institutions of higher education, and “high need” local school districts with the purpose of improving teachers knowledge and skills. The enabling legislation describes the purposes for the program as follows:

To improve and upgrade the status and stature of mathematics and science teaching by encouraging institutions of higher education to assume greater responsibility for improving mathematics and science teacher education through the establishment of comprehensive system of recruiting, training, and advising mathematics and science teachers;

To focus on the education of mathematics and science teachers as a career –long process that constantly stimulates teachers’ intellectual growth and upgrades teachers’ knowledge and skills;

To bring mathematics and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to increase the subject matter knowledge of mathematics and science teachers and improve the teaching skills of such teachers;

To develop more rigorous mathematics and science curricula that is aligned with State and local standards; and

To improve and expand training of mathematics and science teachers, including training such teachers in the effective integration of technology into curriculum and instruction.

3. What activities are authorized under this program?

Congress typically identifies a detailed list of activities that can be conducted under programs it authorizes. This list identifies the kinds of activities Congress expects will be carried out in this program. MSP projects must carry out one or more of the following activities related to elementary or secondary schools:

  • Creating opportunities for enhanced and ongoing professional development of mathematics and science teachers that improves the subject matter knowledge of such teachers;
  • Promoting strong teaching skills for mathematics and science teachers and teacher educators, including integrating reliable scientifically based research methods and technology-based teaching methods into the curriculum;
  • Establishing and operating mathematics and science summer workshops or institutes, including follow-up training, for elementary school and secondary school mathematics and science teachers that SHALL;
  • relate directly to the curriculum and academic areas in which the teacher provides instruction, and focus only secondarily on pedagogy;
  • enhance the ability of the teacher to understand and use the challenging State academic content standards for mathematics and science and to select appropriate curricula; and
  • train teachers to use curricula that are (1) based on scientific research; (2) aligned with challenging State academic content standards; and (3) object-centered, experiment-oriented, and concept and content based.

The summer workshops described above MAY also include programs that;

  • provide teachers and prospective teachers with opportunities to work under the guidance of experience teachers and college faculty;
  • instruct in the use of data and assessments to inform and instruct classroom practices; and
  • provide professional development activities, including supplemental and follow-up activities, such as curriculum alignment, distance learning, and activities that train teachers to utilize technology in the classroom.

Recruiting mathematics, engineering, and science majors to teaching through the use of —

  • signing and performance incentives that are linked to activities proven effective in retaining teachers, for individuals with demonstrated professional experience in mathematics, engineering, or science;
  • stipends provided to mathematics and science teachers for certification through alternative routes
  • scholarships for teachers to pursue advanced course work in mathematics, engineering, or science; and
  • other programs that the State educational agency determines to be effective in recruiting and retaining individuals with strong mathematics, engineering, or science backgrounds.

Developing or redesigning more rigorous mathematics and science curricula that are aligned with challenging State and local academic content standards and with the standards expected for postsecondary study in mathematics and science.

Establishing distance learning programs for mathematics and science teachers using curricula that are innovative, content-based, and based on scientifically based research that is current as of the date of the program involved.

Designing programs to prepare a mathematics or science teacher at a school to provide professional development to other mathematics or science teachers at the school and to assist beginning and other teachers at the school, including (if applicable) a mechanism to integrate the teacher’s experiences from a summer workshop or institute into the provision of professional development and assistance.

Establishing and operating programs to bring mathematics and science teachers into contact with working scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, to expand such teachers’ subject matter knowledge of and research in science and mathematics

Designing programs to identify and develop exemplary mathematics and science teachers in the kindergarten through grade 8 classrooms.

Training mathematics and science teachers and developing programs to encourage young women and other underrepresented individuals in mathematics and science careers (including engineering and technology) to pursue postsecondary degrees in majors leading to such careers.

4. How are the funds allocated?

This is a formula grant program in which every state and the territories receive a portion of the available funds. Funds are allocated to each State educational agency based on a formula that takes into account the population of school age children in the state and prevailing poverty rates. No State receives less than one-half of one percent (1%) of the total amount available per year. Funds are distributed to the states in July of each fiscal year.

The State education agencies are required to administer a competitive grant award process to distribute the funds their funds.

5. Who is eligible to apply for MSP funds?

Each state has the authority to stipulate what entities are eligible to compete for funding, with the following requirements:

A funded partnership must include: (1) an engineering, mathematics, or science department of an institution of higher education; and (2) a high-need local educational agency. States can determine which local educational agencies are “high-need: based on a needs assessment in their state.

A funded partnership may include: (1) another engineering, mathematics, science, or teacher training department of an institution of higher education; (2) additional local educational agencies, public charter schools, public or private elementary schools or secondary schools, or a consortium of such schools; (3) a business; or (4) a nonprofit or for-profit organization of demonstrated effectiveness in improving the quality of mathematics and science teachers.

The states may stipulate which entity must serve as the fiscal agent for the projects funded in their state, but they are not required to do so. Under the law, any of the eligible entities may serve as the fiscal agent.

6. What does “partnership” mean in this program

MSP is based on the premise that everyone benefits when K-12 education and higher education institutions work closely together to improve math and science learning. It emphasizes the need for stronger connections between experts in mathematics, science, engineering and technology within higher education, and educators in elementary and secondary education.

For the purposes of this program, the partnerships must include a high-need school district and the STEM faculty in institutions of higher education. This is the core relationship that is fostered through this program. In addition, education faculty at institutions of higher education, other schools and school districts, and math and science related organizations may be a part of the partnership.

A funded partnership must (1) create opportunities for enhanced and ongoing professional development of mathematics and science teachers that improves the subject matter knowledge of the teachers; (2) promote strong teaching skills for mathematics and science teachers and teacher educators, including integrating scientifically–based research teaching methods; and (3) establish and operate mathematics and summer workshops or institutes, including follow-up training.

7. What is the definition of a “high-need” school district?

The definition of “high-need” is not clearly defined in this statute. The statute describes “high-need” in relation to schools with large numbers of uncertified teachers, as described under the No Child Left Behind provisions. It also describes “high-need” as representing local education agencies in which large numbers of students are performing poorly in math and science subjects.

Each State educational agency is responsible for conducting a needs assessment to determine the highest priority for these professional development funds and for defining “high-need” for their grant competitions.

8. Are private schools eligible to participate?

Private schools are eligible to participate. The core partnership, however, is between a local educational agency and an institution of higher education, but other entities may also participate in the project.

9. What are the reporting requirements for this program?

The legislation requires that each State-funded project submit a performance report to the Secretary of Education annually that describes the progress the project is making its impact on teachers and students. Well-designed and executed evaluations are a very important part of this program.

Specifically, the law states:

IN GENERAL- Each eligible partnership receiving a grant or subgrant under this part shall develop an evaluation and accountability plan for activities assisted under this part that includes rigorous objectives that measure the impact of activities funded under this part.

CONTENTS- The plan developed pursuant to paragraph (1) —

shall include measurable objectives to increase the number of mathematics and science teachers who participate in content-based professional development activities;

shall include measurable objectives for improved student academic achievement on State mathematics and science assessments or, where applicable, an International Mathematics and Science Study assessment; and

may include objectives and measures for —

increased participation by students in advanced courses in mathematics and science;

increased percentages of elementary school teachers with academic majors or minors, or group majors or minors, in mathematics, engineering, or the sciences; and

increased percentages of secondary school classes in mathematics and science taught by teachers with academic majors in mathematics, engineering, and science.

REPORT- Each eligible partnership receiving a grant or subgrant under this part shall report annually to the Secretary regarding the eligible partnership’s progress in meeting the objectives described in the accountability plan of the partnership under subsection (e).

10. How do I find out about the MSP program in my state?

Each State department of education has a coordinator for the MSP program. View State MSP Coordinator