North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network provides statewide
leadership for the improvement of mathematics
and science teaching and learning in order to:
(1) strengthen the quality and increase the size of the teaching base
in mathematics and science education and
(2) increase the pool of students who graduate from North Carolina’s
high schools prepared to pursue careers that require mathematics
and science [North Carolina General Assembly, 1984 and 1986]. The NC-MSEN
vision is to leverage the resources of The University
of North Carolina System, in partnership with schools and the
NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI),
to enrich the professional
knowledge and skills of mathematics and science teachers in every region
of the state, to encourage and challenge underserved student
groups academically, and to promote mathematics and scientific literacy
among all students.
is a constituent program in the UNC
Center for School Leadership Development (UNC CSLD) in Chapel Hill.
It has two primary components: teacher professional development and a
Teacher professional development in mathematics, science, and technology
is provided through ten professional development centers
that are located on UNC System campuses. A mathematics and science education
research center is located on the campus of
NC State University.
The NC-MSEN Pre-College Program, located on nine UNC System campuses,
provides academic enrichment classes and activities
to traditionally underserved middle and high school students. The purpose
is to help broaden the pool of high school graduates who are
prepared to pursue university-level majors that lead to careers in mathematics,
science, technology, engineering, and teaching.
to NC-MSEN! To learn more about the past 25 years of history and major
of NC-MSEN and Pre-College Program, please click
here (in pdf format).
In 1980-81, North Carolina universities graduated only 167 mathematics
teachers for 620 openings and only 218 science teachers for
310 openings. Nearly half the junior high school mathematics and science
teachers, and fully one-third of the high school mathematics
and science teachers, were not properly certified for the subjects they
were teaching. Business representatives advising state officials
on economic development expressed their concern that inadequate education
in science and mathematics was hampering the state's
efforts to modernize and expand its economy. In response, efforts began
on many state university campuses to bolster the education
and re-education of mathematics and science teachers. It is a bit unfair
to identify single events or individuals as "the" start of the
Network. However, the record indicates that initiatives on two campuses,
UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte, started the chain
of actions leading to the establishment of the UNC Mathematics and Science
Hill, Chancellor Christopher Fordham was already known as a statewide
leader in public service for his work on the
Area Health Education Centers Network. In 1981, he established a local
center for mathematics and science education which began
offering summer workshops for middle school teachers. In the fall of 1982,
he asked his faculty to prepare a plan for a network of centers.
Submitted on December 10, 1982, the plan called for four centers, offering
two programs: a 16-semester-hour curriculum for middle
school teachers and a 36-semester-hour program for high school teachers.
Representatives of the UNC General Administration helped
in the preparation of this proposal.
at UNC-Charlotte, an interdisciplinary faculty committee was hard at work
on science and mathematics education initiatives,
supported by Dean Sherman Burson of Arts and Sciences and Chancellor E.
K. Fretwell. Under the committee's guidance,
UNC-Charlotte hired a coordinator to work with school systems as well
as the Discovery Place museum and began an active program
of workshops for teachers.
President Friday Approves Network Formation
By the spring
of 1983, discussions were underway at UNC General Administration (GA)
concerning possible state and GA support for
these two initiatives. In May, GA staff and faculty from several campuses
completed a plan for a "Network of Mathematics and Science
Education Centers" to be developed over a five-year period. The plan was
very similar to the one submitted to Chancellor Fordham, but
it had been expanded to provide for pilot centers at UNC-Chapel Hill and
UNC Charlotte and the phase-in of five additional centers at
sites not yet identified. UNC President William Friday accepted the plan
and announced the formation of the Network on August 1, 1983.
President Friday assigned $160,000 in GA resources for the first year
and directed that the network's "coordination unit" be established at
UNC Chapel Hill. Work began immediately, and Chancellor Fordham named
Mathematics Professor William W. Smith as Interim
Coordinator of Network operations.
Legislature Authorizes Permanent Funding
pilot centers continued their offerings in 1983-84, meetings were held
to frame a proposal to the legislature to establish MSEN
on a permanent basis and to secure public support for the proposal. In
July of 1984, the NC state legislature authorized and funded MSEN,
not on a phased-in basis but all at once, following a key endorsement
from the Governor Huntís Commission on Education for Economic
Growth. On July 12, 1984, UNC General Administration established the Network
more or less as we know it today, with eight teacher
education centers on four-year campuses across the state, a research and
development unit at North Carolina State University (NCSU),
and a liaison center at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.
By fall, Dr. Vinetta Jones was on the job as the first MSEN
coordinator; and by the winter, centers were up and running at all ten
education projects well underway, the Network embarked in 1985-86, on
its second major effort, the MSEN Pre-College
Program, designed to increase the number of minorities and females who
have sufficient interest and preparation to pursue mathematics and
science fields at the university level and beyond. Two grants, from the
Carnegie Foundation and the National Action Council for Minorities
in Engineering, launched this effort and encouraged the 1986 legislature
to provide new funds to MSEN, establishing Pre-College offices at
the following four sites: Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), NCSU,
UNC-Greensboro, and UNC-Charlotte. The established pattern in
which private funding led to public support similarly expanded the Pre-College
Program to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1988, follwing a grant from
the Carnegie Foundation. In 1989, Fayetteville State University (FSU)
received a similar grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The
legislature provided permanent funding for these two sites in 1992.
The UNC Mathematics
and Science Education Network is proud to have maintained its status as
a state-assisted rather than state-supported
organization; only 30% of its current budget is comprised of state appropriations.
Major efforts have been launched to encourage and sustain
the involvement of other stakeholders, and have been met with much success.
In 1987-88, the National Science Foundation provided awards
to NCSU and to Western Carolina University (WCU) for teacher education
projects and to the Network office in support of the Pre-College
Program. Since that time, NSF awards have repeatedly provided major funding
for important initiatives. In 1988-89, the Glaxo Foundation
provided funding for a pilot teacher-leader project at all eight teacher
education centers. This was followed by a three-year grant from the
US Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools
and Teaching (FIRST). The Glaxo and FIRST projects
impacted education at several hundred elementary schools in all corners
of North Carolina, proving the validity of the teacher-leader concept.
In the last three years, MSEN and its Centers have raised over $5 million
in funds from outside sources.
implementation of these projects, Dr. Vinetta Jones resigned as the Network's
Executive Director. UNC-Chapel Hill Vice
Provost William H. Graves served as Acting Director for the next academic
year. Then in 1989, the Network's second Director,
Susan A. Friel, took the helm of MSEN.
direction of Dr. Friel, the Mathematics and Science Education Network
continued to launch innovative professional development
initiatives, many in accordance with reforms from the North Carolina State
Department of Public Instruction. One such program, Teach-Stat,
facilitates the introduction of data analysis and statistics to the elementary
classroom by linking faculty from Network universities together
school teachers to design and present new curriculum materials. When the
State Board of Education required Algebra I for high school
graduation, the Network responded with an extensive series of workshop
courses reaching more than 750 teachers statewide.
In the spring
of 1994, the State Board approved a new science curriculum, which the
Network supported with a range of courses and
workshops. The Network has sustained such professional development programs
over time by offering nearly 300 activities annually and
by enrolling almost 6,000 teachers per year.
In 1995, Dr.
Gerry M. Madrazo, Jr., was named the Network's newest Executive Director.
His leadership roles within the National
Science Teachers' Association and the National Association of Biology
Teachers have greatly strengthened MSEN's national recognition.
As the facilitator of each association's statewide conference, Dr. Madrazo
has increased both presenter and member participation, and
consequently provides North Carolina mathematics and science teachers
with even greater numbers of professional development opportunities.
Under his direction, MSEN continues to promote collaborations among statewide
and regional education organizations--the NC Council of
Teachers of Mathematics, the Eisenhower Consortium, SERVE and others--in
order to broaden the impact of mathematics and science
Also in 1996,
the state of North Carolina, responding to a directive from the General
Assembly, unveiled a comprehensive program to
reorganize K-12 public schools: The New ABC's for Public Education. The
plan recommends that schools strengthen methods of
accountability and instruction, emphasize the basic subject areas while
maintaining rigorous educational standards, and allow for maximum
control at the local school level. MSEN has responded by implementing
significant directional changes to fully support the state's new
educational directive. The Network is prepared to offer North Carolina’s
public schools the guidance they will need as they implement
the plan, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science and technology
and Science Education Network will continue in partnership with the NC
Department of Public Instruction, the
UNC Council for Professional Development and others, to create a prospect
of increased achievement for all North Carolina students.
As a leader in mathematics, science and technology professional development
as well as education research spanning K-16, the Network
will remain at the helm of national and state education reform efforts.
The UNC-Mathematics and Science Education Network is proud of
our contributions over the past decade--as we anticipate many years of
further service to North Carolina public education.