The Florida Space Grant Consortium is participating in a statewide initiative to promote continuous improvement in math, science, and technology education (MSTE) in the state of Florida- CIMS. CIMS is a member of the National Association of State Science and Math Coalitions (NASSMC). The vision of CIMS is to achieve mathematical, scientific and technological literacy of all citizens in the state of Florida and to create a workforce that is prepared for the increasingly complex technological requirements of the 21st century. CIMS is drafting a strategic, comprehensive action plan to strengthen standards-based MSTE in schools, colleges, and universities in Florida. This action plan will take a systemic, statewide approach to securing support, commitment, and resources from all sectors.
The Florida Chapter of CIMS comprises of volunteers from business and industry, the federal government (NASA), the state legislature, the State University System Board of Regents, the Florida Department of Education, the Community College Board and school districts. FSGC is represented by its Associate Director, Dr. Penny Haskins.CIMS seeks to increase mathematical, scientific and technological literacy of all Floridians and to improve the academic preparation and education of students and teachers in order to develop a workforce that is prepared for the increasingly complex technological requirements of the 21st Century. It identifies specific opportunities to strengthen standards-based, accountability driven Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) at all levels of schooling. In 1999, CIMS was instrumental in forming a new task force to completely redo the Science and Mathematics Content Standards for Teachers and to allocate funds for this purpose. CIMS also advocated a critical teacher shortage for Mathematics and Science education. This paved the way to instituting special scholarship funds being made available to students seeking degrees in these fields. CIMS also initiated and co-sponsored a survey of elementary school teachers along with the Coalition for Science Literacy at the University of South Florida (CSL) and the Suncoast Area Center for Educational Enhancement (SACEE). Its purpose was to ascertain the effect the introduction of high-stakes statewide tests (i.e.FCAT) has had on the time devoted to science in our elementary schools. District selection was made to ensure representation of all size school districts from across the state.Out of 1800 surveys disseminated to 52 schools, 73% of the targeted schools participated (38 schools) with a 44% teacher response rate (804 teachers). There was an even distribution across grade levels (K-5). Survey results indicate:
- 87% devote less than 3 hours to science every week.
- 34% stated that time teaching science has decreased within the last five years.
- 48% indicated that they should be teaching more science.
- 73% received less than 5 hours of science in-service during the last five years.
- 56% said that undergraduate courses prepared them poorly to teach the Sunshine State Standards.
- 42% were most comfortable teaching life sciences; only 9% were comfortable teaching physical sciences.
This information is a vital component of the case for more and better in-service in Science and for better preparation.