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Sending Colleges Back To School

Sending Colleges Back To SchoolCollaboration between Tufts and Malden prove power of partnerships in local school districts. Malden, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.23.01] As technology creeps into classrooms around the country, many local schools are looking for new ways to adapt their facilities and curriculum to meet the challenges of teaching in the information age. For three years, Tufts and its neighboring community of Malden have been working together on a unique program to do just that. The partnership, say its creators, is changing the way teachers teach and students learn.

The idea was to train teachers -- both those already in the classroom and those about to enter them -- on new strategies for using technology to enhance their classrooms.

According to Mel Bernstein, dean of arts, sciences and engineering at Tufts University, Malden was in a unique position to collaborate with Tufts -- the city has five new K-8 schools, each built with the latest technology.

Its classrooms were equipped and its teachers were ready.

"The Malden schools provided wonderful laboratories for Tufts teachers to be working alongside technology-savvy mentors," Bernstein wrote in an opinion piece in Sunday's Boston Globe. And Malden's teachers benefited from the University's resources and experts.

The results have been encouraging.

"In the three short years that Tufts and Malden have shared this partnership, there have been measurable gains," Bernstein wrote in the article, which was co-authored by Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard.

Among the most important: literacy and reading skills have dramatically improved among Malden's youngest students.

"Between 50 and 80 percent of the 255 students who participated in [a reading program developed by Tufts' Center for Reading and Language Research] have shown and sustained standard score gains in reading efficiency and comprehension," he wrote.

And Malden's curriculum has experienced a boost as well.

According to Bernstein, Tufts' Wright Center for Science Innovation has helped area teachers develop new thought-provoking science projects for their students. Tufts' crew team is even developing a class on the sport for one of Malden's schools.

The successful collaboration recently expanded into nearby Medford and Everett. Partnering with the Tri-City Education Collaborative (TRITEC), Tufts and the tri-city (Malden, Medford, and Everett) communities received a TEACH/21C implementation grant from the U. S. Department of Education.

The collaborative approach, Bernstein wrote in the Globe, can serve as a national model.

"By creating 'town-gown' relationships that leverage the strengths of the entities involved, colleges and universities can be viewed as true partners in K-12 educational shifts, rather than merely as research institutions that study and report on K-12 activities," he wrote.

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