High school teachers from Jessamine County and five other Kentucky school districts are exploring new ways to teach mathematics through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The grant, totaling almost $600,000, is being funneled to participating schools through the non-profit Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, according to Thursday's announcement.
It will help prepare ninth- and 10th-grade teachers for the new, tougher "common core content" standards in math that Kentucky adopted earlier this month, said Cindy Heine, associate executive director of the Prichard Committee. Funds will help participating school districts cover the costs of teachers' professional development and their time away from classrooms while they are learning new methods.
"We have to provide support for teachers to be able to teach these new standards," Heine said.
East and West Jessamine high schools are participating in the pilot project, along with selected high schools in Boone, Daviess, Jefferson, Kenton and Warren counties.
Teachers in participating schools started training in new math teaching approaches last month, and many are trying them in classrooms now, according to the Prichard Committee. Training continues through June.
In another effort funded by the Gates Foundation, Kentucky is joining seven other states in a new program that would let qualifying students graduate from high school at the end of their sophomore years and enroll in college immediately. Students first would have to pass standardized tests showing they're ready for college-level work.
Kentucky, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont will participate in the pilot program, operated through the National Center on Education and the Economy.
Up to 20 high schools in each of the states will participate when the program starts in the 2011-12 school year. It's not known yet which Kentucky schools will take part.
Educators stress that the program wouldn't be for everyone. But they say it could appeal to young, high-achieving students who are bored with high school and want to move on.
Each state participating in the initiative would approve as many as five "board examination" programs, such as the the College Board's Advanced Placement program or the ACT's QualityCore.
High school students in those states could then take one of the exams at the end of 10th grade.
Those who passed would receive high school diplomas, and could enroll as full-time students in any two- or four-year, open-enrollment college in their state without having to take remedial courses.
Sophomores who passed the exams also could elect to stay in high school and take classes designed to prepare them for selective college enrollment later on.