Teachers to Receive Free Tools and Training to Help Improve Science and Technology Skills of Massachusetts Students

BOSTON - Studies show that American students lag behind their international peers when it comes to the science and technology proficiency that is so critical to success in the 21st century global marketplace.   To help Massachusetts leaders bridge that gap, Mass Insight Education & Research Institute and Verizon are joining forces to help teachers prepare their students to compete and succeed.

Mass Insight received a $50,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to develop standards-based curriculum "maps" that will help educators more effectively teach standards-based science and technology in the classroom.   Educators in every Massachusetts school district will have access to the maps, and intensive teacher workshops will support the efforts of nearly 30 school districts that are members of Mass Insight's Great Schools Coalition.

"Our goal is to help teachers better prepare students to be proficient in science and technology," said William Guenther, president of the Mass Insight Education & Research Institute.  "Beginning in 2010, 10th grade students will be required to pass the MCAS Science and Technology exam to graduate from high school.   As the Commonwealth raises educational standards, we're focused on providing educators with the tools they need to help students succeed."

Standards maps are charts that break down, by grade level and subject area, the specific skills that students in grades K-10 must master in core curricular areas, based on current state requirements. While the commonwealth provides the overall curricular framework, it does not provide standards maps. Teachers use the maps to design lesson plans and classroom activities, and school district leaders use them to chart the alignment of their curricula with Massachusetts' standards.

Mass Insight began creating and offering curriculum maps in English, mathematics and science in 1999. Since then, thousands of educators across the state have used them - both in hard copy and through Mass Insight's Web site, which offers a downloadable version - to align their district's curriculum with the state standards. 

This new effort to upgrade science and technology curricula will connect with and support the work of Mass Insight's Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative, a $13 million project that is helping school districts use Advanced Placement as a catalyst for improved achievement in high school.

"Verizon is proud to partner with Mass Insight, which has a long history of providing services that help educators raise the education bar here in Massachusetts," said Donna Cupelo, Verizon region president for Massachusetts and Rhode Island.   "The world is changing, and students are being required to develop skills that will help them to compete with people around the world.   It's important to the future of our economy that students educated here are better prepared for college and a global workplace. "

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education through its signature program Thinkfinity.org; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery.  In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 63.7 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

Mass Insight Education and Research Institute (MERI) is an independent non-profit organization that works with public schools, higher education, and state government to improve student achievement. MERI conducts national and statewide research, advocates for informed policymaking, and provides extensive school-improvement services in pursuit of two primary education reform goals: excellence in math and science achievement and the successful turnaround of the "bottom five percent" - public schools that consistently fail more than half of the students they serve.