With budget cuts, personnel cuts, and a lack of materials and resources, educators now have a tougher time, but a $10.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Education using federal Race to the Top funds will soon change this.
CPALMS, (pronounced “see palms”) which the grant will fund, is the official source for Florida K-12 education standards and course information. With this two and a half year grant, researchers at LSI’s Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) will expand and enhance 3-year-old CPALMS to create a single open platform for a huge network of resources for educators.
With new resources being added daily, CPALMS already features approximately 3,600 resources for teachers and professionals. Experts review subject matter curricula, ensuring higher quality material and professional development for educators. Thousands more items will be added, such as learning progression maps, and messaging tools to help teachers plan and collaborate.
Most states have already adopted the Common Core State Standards, and Florida teachers are converting to these standards to provide consistency in preparing students for college and the work environment. This new grant will allow teachers to align CPALMS resources across the country.
“About 10 new modules will be added and will be released this year of which iCPALMS, a Web-based platform, which allows teachers to incorporate different apps on a website they can use that will work with the states’ standard and modules helping them map their course, pick right lessons and right resources,” said Rabieh Razzouk, associate director of the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University (FSU).
According to Razzouk, CPALMS was originally only available for four districts, but with the grant, it will be available to everybody. Because a majority of 44 states already share standards, it will be relevant to the entire country.
“In the past, CPALMS didn’t develop lesson plans, we only helped teachers review them. After the grant, CPALMS will be helping teachers build and train on lesson standards,” added Razzouk. “Not all teachers built or created lesson plans, but now we will help them build their own.”
State assessments have indicated significant declines in student performance in math and science as students move to higher grades. “STEM” or science, technology, engineering and math, is important for the country and for individual students.
“Increasingly, STEM is where the jobs are, where the money is and where our future lies,” said Laura Lang, LSI director and co-principal investigator of the study, in a statement. “CPALMS is doing a lot to help educators meet that challenge and, given the funded expansion, it will be able to do a great deal more.”
Razzouk enthusiastically described one of the apps that will become available on CPALMS; it will allow training on how engineers think and problem solve. Students will have access to engage in classroom activities and models to learn from. Currently, there are 600 concepts of engineering in CPALMS. Input from mathematicians, scientists, and other professionals will help teachers build STEM lessons and models.
Other members of the research team include co-principal investigator Danielle Sherdan of FCR-STEM and co-investigators Young-Suk Kim and Jeanne Wanzek, both of Florida state’s College of Education and the Florida Center for Reading Research, another LSI center. Project partners include American Association for the Advancement of Science, Purdue University, WestEd, and Sciberus, the software development company that helped create CPALMS and iCPALMS, according to an announcement from FSU.