In 1986, Oklahoma State University (OSU) was one of nine colleges/universities nationwide to receive funding from the National Science Foundation to develop a middle school mathematics teacher preparation program. The project, entitled "The Development, Implementation, and Research for Educating Competent Teachers (DIRECT) Project," was a five-year cooperative effort between the OSU College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education to develop a four-year undergraduate program by building on existing elementary and secondary education programs at OSU to prepare students for teaching mathematics at the middle school level. Characteristics of the DIRECT Middle School program in mathematics include:
- rigorous academic preparation in mathematics content (elementary education majors specializing in middle school mathematics are required to take twenty-six semester credits of mathematics),
- a 3-credit middle school mathematics methods courses,
- the use of technology as a tool for teaching and learning integrated into all special middle school courses,
- early establishment of a middle school professional identity with a freshman middle school orientation course in the first semester of enrollment and three 1-credit field experiences in the middle school beginning in the second semester of enrollment,
- a capstone mathematics course, entitled "Introduction to Math Modeling," taken during the senior year,
- a "History of Mathematics" course, and
- a 3-credit course on the psychology of the middle school child.
The DIRECT Program was instrumental in raising the mathematics requirements for all OSU elementary education majors from 6 credits in mathematics, satisfied by two courses requiring no special college level mathematics prerequisites, to 9 credits, including 3 credits of College Algebra and two 3-credit course, Math Structures and Geometric Structures, each requiring College Algebra as a prerequisite.