The Cain Center traces its roots to 1993 with the formation of the Center for Science and Math Literacy (CSML) in the LSU College of Education. For the next 7 years, the Cain Center, a group of LSU faculty, obtained funding for performing research, developing curricula, and innovating methods of teaching science and mathematics.
Between 1996–1999, Melinda Oliver directed the CSML, which supported training and professional development for science teachers through numerous grants. A major funding source was Louisiana Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers (LaCEPT), which itself was funded by a major NSF-CETP grant to the Louisiana Board of regents.
By 2000, College Deans of Education, Basic Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Agriculture, outlined a plan for expanding the mission and transforming the Center into an inter-collegiate unit within the LSU Office of Academic Affairs. LSU alumnus, Gordon A. Cain, backed the plan with a $2.5M endowment. Over the next 15 years, the Center acquired an additional $35 million in federal, state and foundation grants for recruiting, training, and supporting teachers, with a goal of preparing students for post-secondary pursuits. Dr. James Madden, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, obtained additional grants for developing new Cain Center initiatives and programs.
2003: Math Science Partnership (MSP)
Louisiana school districts, in collaboration with the Cain Center, received multiple three-year MSP grants totaling $9.2M since the program’s inception in 2003. Funded by the Louisiana Department of Education, and awarded to districts on a competitive basis, each MSP program has impacted approximately 35-40 elementary or secondary teachers each year. The MSP research-based workshop format provided teachers with robust science and math content knowledge and tools necessary for improving student learning and integrating real-world STEM applications into classroom lessons. We collaborated with 16 districts—public, private, parochial, and charter school—within the following parishes: Ascension, Avoyelles, Baker, Central, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Helena, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, and Zachary.
2003: Geaux Teach
Modeled on the UTeach program that began at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, LSU’s Geaux Teach program is a secondary education concentration for students who are pursuing a degree in math, science, or humanities. In 2007, Geaux Teach was awarded $1.2 million from the National Math and Science Initiative sponsored by ExxonMobil. For over 20 years, GeauxTeach graduates have earned undergraduate content degrees in humanities—English, French, history, or Spanish—or math and science—biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics—while earning a secondary teaching certificate. Geaux Teach graduates are highly qualified, certified teachers in secondary courses of their content area after completing a four-year track. Officially part of the LSU College of Science, GeauxTeach Math and Science are supported by the Cain Center.
2006: Dual Enrollment (DE)
Through the early 2000s, dual enrollment participation in Louisiana was limited to fewer than 3,000 academically advanced students participating in local programs. Significant growth started in 2005 with the creation of the TOPS Tech Early Start Scholarship. The LSU DE program started with three high schools and two math courses. Today, the program has expanded to 22 courses in 14 disciplines within 81 high schools—and with record-setting enrollments. Dual enrollment is designed for preparing high school students for college and careers by enrolling them in college-level academic or work skills courses through which the students earn both college and high school credit. Advanced courses keep academically strong students challenged, give them early exposure to college-level rigor, and provide an opportunity for earning college credit. Developmental courses help academically under-prepared students meet minimum standards of proficiency, graduate with a high school diploma, and gain admission to four-year institutions. Work skills courses provide technical training toward industry-recognized certifications and credentials.
2009: Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)
MNS was introduced in 2009 as an attractive option for STEM teachers interested in advancing professionally and improving the quality of secondary STEM education. The MNS degree, administered through the Graduate School in conjunction with the College of Science, provides the depth and breadth of study in the sciences that is required of science professionals and school teachers. The MNS program allows a combination of coursework from allied fields. Certified teachers seeking the MNS can tailor their plan of study, including courses needed for add-on certifications in additional subject areas. Those who seek a STEM profession—medical technology, pre-med, forensics, environment, and computation in science—may take an array of courses for enhancing their job capabilities. More than 35 LSU faculty have created, modified, and adapted 22 graduate-level LSU courses for the MNS program. Several graduates of the MNS have made significant contributions to the Cain Center as Master Teachers and Project Leaders.
2009 Louisiana Math and Science Teacher Institute (LaMSTI)
From 2009–2015, LaMSTI existed as a professional master’s degree program in which secondary math and science teachers could learn, communicate and improve the knowledge base essential for teaching mathematics and science. The goal of LaMSTI: supporting a well-integrated, effective professional degree program and around it a professional community spanning the university and K-12. During the project, we offered a variety college readiness services to districts—dual enrollment opportunities, courses to prepare students for dual enrollment, and focused teacher-training opportunities to equip teachers to deliver courses of both kinds. LaMSTI allowed districts to meet state and federal benchmarks with attractive opportunities for teachers and students.
RMC Research Corporation (Denver, CO), a nationally prominent educational research contractor, prepared an evaluation report of LaMSTI [PDF].
2013: Eureka Math
Cain Center Associate Director Dr. Scott Baldridge, a distinguished professor of mathematics at LSU, is the lead author and mathematician for Eureka Math/Engage NY—the most widely used mathematics curriculum in the U.S. Eureka is based on common core state standards designed for Pre-K through 12th grade. The curriculum was established in 2013 for helping students engage in and get excited about mathematics. This unique program was the first complete curriculum that met all of the common core state standards in every single grade. Authored between 2012–2014, multiple pilot modules were tested during the 2012–2013 academic year. Materials rolled out during the 2013–2014 school year. Louisiana was one of the first states to implement Eureka Math. By 2017, Eureka Math became the most widely used math curriculum in the country. As one of the first states to adopt the EngageNY version of the curriculum in 2013-2014, Louisiana observed continuous gains through its implementation of Eureka Math. Eureka is a proven success, as statistics have shown that standardized testing scores went up with the curriculum change. The RAND Corporation has found Eureka Math and its original version, EngageNY Math, to be the most widely used elementary school math curricula in the nation.
2015: College Readiness Program
The College Readiness Program established high-quality learning opportunities in secondary schools across the state wherein:
- Teachers obtain training and certification for working efficiently toward more ambitious learning goals for their students.
- Students choose courses leading up to enhanced dual enrollment and advanced placement options.
- Students are adequately prepared for the rigors and requirements of first-year college courses.
- Instruction occurs within the convenience of one's high school, where individual attention is possible due to smaller class sizes and proximity to caregivers.
The program offered these three options:
- Dual Enrollment: students take actual LSU courses in their classrooms and pay reduced tuition, earning college credit and high school credit concurrently. Teachers are trained and certified to facilitate the course with an LSU faculty member serving as the instructor of record.
- Pre-college: participating teachers utilize LSU developed curricula for pre-college courses for preparing students for college.
- ACT Prep: participating schools host one offering specifically for math and one offering for all four ACT content areas.
Early Learning Academies
One of our most exciting projects began in 2015 as the Cain Center played a vital role in forging LSU’s partnership with Liberty Magnet High School (formerly Lee High School in Baton Rouge. The partnership piloted LSU College Readiness courses at the school and:
- supported its curriculum innovation for the school’s academies of Bioscience, Digital Media & Arts, and Engineering.
- offered a spectrum of professional development opportunities to teachers.
- linked LSU faculty and students to the school’s academic programs.
This project ultimately expand the LSU Early Learning Academy model to other high schools, furthering the Center’s mission of enhancing teacher skills and better preparing students for college.
Quality Science & Mathematics Grant Program
The Quality Science and Mathematics (QSM) Grant Program was established by the Louisiana Legislature in the summer of 1992 for the purpose of providing approximately $162,000 annually, in $750 increments, for science and mathematics instructional materials and equipment to regular education mathematics and science public school teachers. The QSM program is governed by a council comprised of two representatives each from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Systemic Initiatives Program, Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, and state-level teacher, principal, supervisor, and superintendent organizations. The Cain Center began administering the program under the direction of the Council.
Through the years, student enrichment has included a number of programs offered to students of various ages and disciplines such as: STEM Family Night, Science Fair Judging, You be the Chemist Challenge, STEMup Baton Rouge, Match Circle, ALEKS Math Preparatory summer camps, as well as the Math Circle Competition Team (MCCT).
2017: LSU STEM Pathways
Our faculty and graduate students helped create the LSU STEM Pathways through a partnership with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Liberty Magnet High School. The statewide roll out of the LSU STEM Certification Pathways is a joint effort of:
- Louisiana Department of Education
- Liberty Magnet High School
- Cain Center faculty & graduate student affiliates from:LSU School of Art
- LSU School of Music
- LSU College of Science
- LSU College of Engineering
- LSU Center for Computation & Technology.
The LSU STEM Pathways program provides access to over 24 project-based middle and high school STEM courses as well as STEM modules for middle and elementary school grades. We offer standards-based, state-of-the-art, open-access teaching materials and provide intensive teacher training for implementing these courses in over a third of Louisiana's 64 parishes.
LSU Pathways for high school is a robust curriculum designed for in-depth study of one of four available STEM pathways. Students can choose to study biomedical sciences, computing, digital design and emergent media, or pre-engineering. While the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) STEM Pathways are designed for students in 9th-12th grade, LSU recognizes the need to create a pipeline for success beginning elementary and middle school. LSU Pathways for elementary school consists of introductory courses designed to help students get excited about STEM subjects. With this program, the LSU Pathways team provides training to elementary school teachers selected by the district.
The Louisiana Legislature appropriated $1 million for advancing regional STEM efforts throughout Louisiana. The Board of Regents' Louisiana Regional STEM Network (LaSTEM) is a system of STEM leadership entities strategically positioned across Louisiana, similar to the Regional Labor Market Areas (RLMAs) identified by the Louisiana Workforce Commission to improve access to STEM education, participation, and advancement from Pre-K to Grey. The Cain Center was selected a partner and host for the Region 2 STEM Network Center partner.
2022: Code.org Regional Partner
In 2022, the Cain Center, in partnership with LaSTEM Region 2 Capital Area STEM, was selected as the Code.org® regional partner for Louisiana. Code.org is considered the leading U.S. provider of K–12 computer science curriculum in the largest school districts. Through this partnership, LSU will drive new awareness and expansion of computer science education across the state. The long-term goal for this partnership is ensuring that teachers have professional learning and support while expanding state-wide access to computer science opportunities to PK–12 students for Louisiana’s modern and future demands for our computing workforce.