Dr. James Bush, professor of mathematics at Waynesburg University, is serving as an educational consultant and assisting in the efforts of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), whose goal is "transforming education, [and] changing the lives of tens of thousands of students in the process."
NMSI, a Dallas-based nonprofit that has been working to improve access to and quality of performance on the Advanced Placement examinations in a growing number of schools across the country, is committed to making a difference by "improving how STEM subjects are taught, fostering student interest in math and science and building a college-ready culture."
In 2013, The Heinz Endowment joined NMSI and provided a three-year, $930,637 grant to Pittsburgh Brashear High School and Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (Sci-Tech), expecting an increase of 292 percent over the life of the grant on qualifying scores for the two schools in AP mathematics, science and English.
Proving its worth, the grant has led both schools to tremendous success, scoring among the top schools in the state and holding the largest percentages of improvement as a result of the grant and the extra help afforded by NMSI.
According to a September 2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, at Brashear, the number of AP exams in mathematics, science and English earning a qualifying score doubled, from 33 in 2013 to 66 in 2014. At Sci-Tech, the number earning qualifying scores on the same tests tripled, from nine in 2013 to 32 in 2014.
The outcome is a result of the grant money that is used to provide extra help from the National Math and Science Initiative utilizing the expertise and passion of consultants like Dr. Bush. Specifically, Bush conducted several six-hour Saturday sessions throughout the school year during which he reviewed advanced statistical concepts and test-taking strategies with student participants. In addition, Bush will also lead a NMSI Summer Institute for AP Statistics teachers in August. During the week-long workshop, Bush will cover the entire AP curriculum.
"My goal is to first review the course content for the AP Statistics Curriculum, and second to work with the teachers in developing fun and innovative ways to enhance students' understanding of statistics," he said.
NMSI has trained more than 50,000 teachers, and has a goal to produce another 25,000 new math and science teachers by 2025, equipping teachers with the best tools and techniques to inspire and engage students in math and science instruction. Bush is excited to be a part of this mission.
"Statistics is a very difficult course to teach. Few teachers have had formal training in statistics beyond one or two college courses," he said. "Also, statistics educators are often isolated, being the sole teacher of the subject in their school or district. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my love and passion for statistics with a new generation of teachers and to facilitate the exchange of ideas."
In addition to his work with the Initiative, Bush recently presented a breakout session titled “Motivating Topics in Statistics” using film and television clips at the United States Council on Teaching Statistics (USCOTS) at Penn State in May.
From June 11-17, Bush will assist in the annual AP Statistics Reading which includes more than 800 statistics teachers (high school and college) from across the country. These educators will work together to score approximately 209,000 AP Statistics examinations, each with six open-ended questions. Bush will help to score the international exams, exams given to students in American schools in different countries.
For more information, visit www.nms.org.
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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
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