In 1991, tremendous science education reform activities were underway across Texas and the nation. Changes necessitated that teachers provide science instruction in fields for which they were not prepared. Dr. Kamil A. Jbeily, then at the Texas Education Agency, initiated a series of regional meetings across the state to explore ways to create support systems of professional development for Texas science teachers. The meetings included representatives from education service centers, colleges and universities, school districts, business and industry, and institutions of informal education. The goal was to create regional partnerships built on collaboration and cost-sharing that provided science teachers with relevant, sustained, and high-intensity professional development. These P-16 partnerships, with initial federal funding from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Science Professional Development Program developed into the statewide network that is now the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.
On March 2, 1996, with the reorganization of the Texas Education Agency, the statewide administrative office of the Texas Regional Collaboratives (TRC) was moved, under a TEA-UT partnership agreement to the Science Education Center, now the Center for STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin. The program has enjoyed support from a wide range of partners including the U.S. Department of Education Eisenhower Grants Program, the Texas Education Agency, the National Science Foundation, and a number of corporate supporters including AT&T Foundation, Shell, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, El Paso Corporation, and others. In addition, over fifty business and community partners support activities of the Collaboratives at the regional level.
In March 2006, as per a historic $1.0 Million gift from Shell Oil Company, two Louisiana Regional Collaboratives prototypes modeled after the TRC commenced their activities in the service of Louisiana science teachers. In July 2006, the TRC launched a new initiative supported by Math and Science Partnership funding through the Texas Education Agency to provide high quality professional development to mathematics teachers across Texas through a network of Mathematics Regional Collaboratives.
The long-range goals of the Regional Collaboratives are to continuously (1) enhance the quality of science and mathematics teaching in Texas through Professional Development Academies and inter-regional collaboration; (2) increase the number of qualified science and mathematics educators by building the leadership capacity of teachers to mentor and serve a larger number of teachers; and (3) improve accountability of the system by evaluating the impact of the professional development on teachers’ knowledge and skills, their performance in the classroom, and on student achievement.
The Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching program has received commendations from the U.S. Department of Education, policy makers, state legislators, and business partners. The Program was inducted into the Texas Science Hall of Fame on January 17, 2000, and was recognized by the Governor, the Senate, and House of Representatives on January 16, 2001 for distinguished achievements and contributions to supporting education reform.