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UGA education professor’s math program named among Top 5 in the nation

Athens, Ga. – A University of Georgia education professor’s program to improve the mathematics and technology skills of Georgia educators who teach students from special populations has been selected as one of the top five projects in the nation funded by an Improving Teacher Quality grant.

Karen Jones, a professor in the College of Education’s department of workforce education, leadership, and social foundations, developed the Mathematics and Technology Happen Today program to study whether participation in computer-based math programs would improve work-related math skills of students from special populations.

The program was based on the concept that although every student needs to master challenging mathematics, students from special populations may not be able to meet national and state mathematics standards.

The idea was to show these students how the math they learn in the classroom is applied to real-world scenarios. This program helps them to see the relevance of what they are learning, while also answering the call from employers to increase the work-based skills of the community’s high school graduates, said Jones.

Locating and integrating a computer-based mathematics program into career and technical education programs can offer short-term benefits in relation to retention of course content, as well as long-term work-related employability, she said.

The study showed that students from special populations respond well to nontraditional methods of instruction. Results showed that upper-class special education males and ninth grade at-risk females had the largest increase in mathematics understanding. Reports from teachers revealed that students with limited English proficiency also benefited from the use of a computer-based program when learning work-related mathematics.

The M.A.T.H. Today project was a three-year study funded by an ITQ grant through No Child Left Behind. The grant program provides Georgia with nearly $2 million each year to support professional development for teachers in science, mathematics, language arts and social studies. M.A.T.H. Today was selected as one top five ITQ projects by the Association of Career and Technical Education.

Jones has spent most of her 25-year career as a UGA faculty member studying teacher education, teacher effectiveness, use and effectiveness of paraprofessionals in career and technical educational settings for students who have special needs. Much of her scholarly activities have been interdisciplinary, combining efforts from vocational education and special education.

She helped write numerous guides and handbooks that are used by special needs coordinators throughout the state, including The Georgia Intervention Guide, a handbook for vocational academic coordinators to use with students who are at risk for failing or dropping out of school, first published for the Georgia Department of Education in 1997 but revised in 2004.

She was named the National Outstanding Career and Technical Educator for 2005 by the ACTE.

Jones received her Ed.D. in vocational education from UGA.