Campus: CSU Fullerton -- October 11, 2002
Math Wizard Awarded $6.4 Million Grant to Improve
David L. Pagni, the Cal State Fullerton professor of mathematics who
once dressed as a wizard to stress the magic of learning math for a
wide-eyed audience of elementary school children, has been awarded a
$6,483,054 National Science Foundation grant - the largest ever for
the university- to enhance teacher training and help students to excel
in learning mathematics.
Cal State Fullerton will partner in the effort with four Orange County
school districts to reach more than 9,000 high-school students and more
than 7,000 middle-school students to improve academic performance in
The five-year grant for “Teachers Assisting Students to Excel
in Learning Mathematics” tops Pagni’s previous record-setting
$6 million grant, also awarded by NSF, for a program that improved the
way math is taught in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Beginning in March, more than 100 teachers will participate in the new
program, from the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, Buena
Park School District, Garden Grove Unified School District and Orange
Unified School District.
“This is a standards-based, data-driven program designed to improve
students’ performance in math by giving their teachers the knowledge
and tools to accurately diagnose students’ deficiencies, assess
their progress and to transform the departmental culture to maximize
student learning in mathematics,” said Pagni.
The plan centers around four specific strategies: using data to get
results, improving classroom assessment, coaching and mentoring and
increasing content knowledge. The program requires that teachers take
an active role in their professional development, share their experiences
with one another, improve their subject knowledge, and develop new,
standards-based approaches to curriculum and teaching skills.
“One of the goals is to help teachers become student-focused,
as well as subject-focused,” said Pagni.
Extensive teacher training will be provided, with sessions to be conducted
in the teachers’ home districts or in a central location. In some
cases, teachers will take classes at Cal State Fullerton. An individual
study plan will be developed for each teacher.
The program will be organized in four “clusters,” with each
centered on a high school and the middle schools that serve as feeders
to that campus. Participating high schools are: Buena Park, Los Amigos
in Fountain Valley, Santiago in Garden Grove and Orange.
A CSUF mathematics professor will be assigned to oversee each cluster
along with a full-time mathematics coach. Professors include Martin
Bonsangue, Gerald Gannon, Armando Martinez-Cruz and Harris Shultz. Coaches
are yet to be named.
Pagni also will be assisted by Dianne Lynette DeMille of the Orange
County Department of Education and Patricia Ann Howell, assistant superintendent
of education and assessment services for the Fullerton Joint Union High
In 1996, Pagni - named Outstanding Professor of the Year in 1993 by
Cal State Fullerton and in 1994 by the CSU - donned a sorcerer’s
hat and robe and waved a magic wand, much to the delight of an assembly
of children at Henniger Elementary School in Santa Ana. The occasion
was a special ceremony to announce the program that became known as
SUMS (Students Using Math Successfully) in the Santa Ana Unified School
SUMS involved more than 1,800 teachers and their principals who underwent
100 hours of special mathematics education.
David L. Pagni, professor of mathematics, at (714) 278-2671 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Reid, Public Affairs, at (714) 278-4855 or email@example.com
Photo: A high-resolution image of Pagni can be downloaded
from the university’s Web site at: