Equity

Differentiated Professional Development: Building Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching Struggling Learners

This project is creating and studying a blended professional development model (face-to-face and online) for mathematics teachers and special educators (grades 4-7) with an emphasis on teaching struggling math students in the areas of fractions, decimals, and positive/negative numbers (Common Core State Standards). The model's innovative design differentiates professional learning to address teachers' wide range of prior knowledge, experiences, and interests.

Award Number: 
1020163
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Teresa Duncan
Full Description: 

This project under the direction of the Education Development Center is creating and studying a  professional development model for middle school mathematics teachers with an emphasis on teaching struggling math students in the areas of fractions and rational numbers. There are three components to the PD for teachers: online modules, professional learning communities, and face-to-face workshops. There are four online modules 1) Fraction sense: concepts, addition, and subtraction, 2) Fraction multiplication and division; 3) Decimal and percent operations; and 4) Positive/Negative including concepts and operations. Each module is one week long. There are common sessions and special emphasis ones depending on the needs of the teacher. The project addresses three research questions: 1) To what extent do participating teachers show changes in their knowledge of rational numbers and integers, pedagogical knowledge of and beliefs about instructional practices for struggling students and abilities to use diagnostic approaches to identify and address student difficulties?; 2) To what extent do students of participating teachers increase their mathematical understanding and skill?; and 3) To what extent do students of participating teachers show positive changes in their attitudes toward learning mathematics?

In the first year of work on the professional development program, fifty-five teachers will test the initial components of the differentiated modules. In years two and three an additional 160 teachers will participate in the professional development and research to test efficacy of the professional development model. In addition to this testing, twelve teachers will be selected for intensive case studies. Teacher content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and attitudes will be assessed by various well-validated instruments, and changes in their classroom practice will be assessed by classroom observations. Effects of the teacher professional development on student learning will be evaluated by analysis of data from state assessments and by performance on selected items from NAEP and other standardized tests.

This project will result in a tested innovative model for professional development of mathematics teachers to help them with the critical challenge of assisting students who struggle in learning the core concepts and skills of rational numbers and integers. Deliverables will include the on-line modules, materials for workshop and professional learning community work, new research instruments, and research reports.

Using PISA to Develop Activities for Teacher Education (UPDATE)

This project uses items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to develop two kinds of resources for preparation and professional development of secondary mathematics teachers: one in the form of prototype professional learning materials and a second in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written for mathematics teachers and teacher educators. Work on both resources will focus on algebra and quantitative literacy and on factors influencing educational equity.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019513
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

The UPDATE project seeks to enable significant advances in K-12 teacher and student learning of mathematics by using of items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in ways that enhance the work of mathematics teachers and teacher educators. We hypothesize that PISA can be useful to the field in much the same way as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has long served as a key source of information for the mathematics education community. In contrast to NAEP and TIMSS, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in the area of mathematics has received little or no attention within the U.S. mathematics education community, beyond noting that the performance of U.S. students is mediocre compared to that of students in many other countries in Asia and Europe. A consequence of the lack of attention to PISA in the U.S. is that we have underutilized a potentially valuable source of information for improvement of mathematics education.

In this project we use PISA as a base to develop resources for mathematics educators to use in teacher education settings. One type of resource comes in the form of prototype professional learning materials that provide opportunities for teachers and students to analyze complex mathematical tasks and student responses to those tasks, focusing on both the mathematics entailed in the task and the understandings of mathematics reflected in students’ responses. The materials will be designed to engage teachers in individual and collaborative inquiry aimed at developing their specialized content knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge. Materials will be field tested in preservice and inservice teacher professional education settings and also shared at regional and national meetings. A second type of resource comes in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written specifically for mathematics teachers and teacher educators and published in journals that reach these audiences. The articles will be informed not only by our experiences in developing and using the prototype materials, but also by the findings of selected secondary analyses of data collected in the 2003 PISA assessment.

Our work is organized around three distinct focus areas: (1) Algebra – a traditional content topic familiar to mathematics teachers that can be approached in a novel way through PISA tasks; (2) Quantitative Literacy – a nontraditional content topic less familiar to mathematics teachers that can be accessed directly through PISA tasks, and (3) Equity – an issue of import to mathematics educators that can be examined carefully using PISA data. In each component our work blends research inquiry and development, integrating the analysis of tasks and data from the PISA mathematics assessment with the creation of prototype teacher education materials and the preparation of PISA-based, research-grounded articles for teachers and teacher educators.

The results of this exploratory study will be disseminated broadly, and they are likely to generate new activity in research and development related to PISA. Mirroring the tradition of the interpretive reports of NAEP results, we will produce PISA-based resources that can have a significant impact on the mathematics education community as teachers, teacher educators, and graduate students examine the materials and reports we produce and use them to improve the quality of teacher and student learning of mathematics.

This exploratory project led by faculty from the University of Michigan uses items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to develop two kinds of resources for preparation and professional development of secondary mathematics teachers. One type of resource comes in the form of prototype professional learning materials that provide opportunities for teachers and students to analyze complex mathematical tasks and student responses to those tasks, focusing on both the mathematics entailed in the task and the understandings of mathematics reflected in students' responses. A second type of resource comes in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written specifically for mathematics teachers and teacher educators. Work on both resources will focus on the critical content areas of algebra and quantitative literacy and on factors influencing educational equity.

The project is driven by the hypothesis that PISA assessment instruments and findings can be useful to teachers in much the way that prior analyses of NAEP frameworks, items, and data have been. To address the first project objective, the research team will use selected PISA items and student responses to those items to design, develop, and test a collection of professional learning tasks that engage mathematics teachers in individual and collaborative inquiry aimed at enhancing their specialized content knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge. To address the second project objective, the research team will prepare articles for practitioner journals that will be informed by experiences in developing and using the prototype materials, but also by the findings of selected secondary analyses of data collected in the 2003 PISA assessment.

The results of this work will be a collection of resources for use in various teacher preparation and professional development settings to stimulate thinking of secondary mathematics teachers about issues of curriculum content, student learning, teaching, and assessment.

CAREER: Examining the Role of Context in the Mathematical Learning of Young Children

This project involves a longitudinal, ethnographic study of children's mathematical performances from preschool to first grade in both formal classroom settings and informal settings at school and home. The study seeks to identify opportunities for mathematical learning, to map varied performances of mathematical competence, to chart changes in mathematical performance over time, and to design and assess the impact of case studies for teacher education.

Award Number: 
1461468
Funding Period: 
Mon, 06/15/2009 to Tue, 05/31/2011
Full Description: 

This project involves a longitudinal, ethnographic study of children's mathematical performances from preschool to first grade in both formal classroom settings and informal settings at school and home. The proposed site for the study is a small, predominately African-American pk-12 school. The study seeks to identify opportunities for mathematical learning by young children across multiple contexts, to map varied performances of mathematical competence by young children, to chart changes in young children's mathematical performance over time, and to design and assess the impact of case studies for teacher education that explore young children's mathematical competencies. Research questions focus on mathematical opportunities for learning in various contexts, children's development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions over time, the characteristics of competent mathematical performances, and the role of case studies in helping beginning teachers to understand young minority children's mathematical thinking. Data collected will include video tapes of classroom activities, written fieldnotes of formal and informal settings, student work, parent focus group transcripts, and children's interview performances. Analysis will involve both thematic coding and construction of case studies. The overarching goal of this project is to transform the ways that researchers think about and study the mathematical learning of young minority children as well as the quality of schooling these children experience.

Nurturing Mathematics Dreamkeepers

This study targets elementary schools with a documented achievement gap between White American and African American students and investigates: (a) the ways K-2 teachers draw upon their current knowledge (mathematical, cultural, pedagogical) to make sense of African American students' conceptions; (b) how teachers might advance their practice through understanding of the relationship between students' cultural experiences and mathematical conceptions; and (c) to what extent this advancement brings forth solid foundations in mathematics among all students.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0353412
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2004 to Wed, 08/31/2011

Math Pathways and Pitfalls: Capturing What Works for Anytime Anyplace Professional Development

Math Pathways & Pitfalls lessons for students boost mathematics achievement for diverse students, including English Learners, English Proficient students, and Latino students. This project develops modules that increase teachers’ capacity to employ the effective and equitable principles of practice embodied by Math Pathways & Pitfalls and apply these practices to any mathematics lesson. This four-year project develops, field tests, and evaluates 10 online professional development modules.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918834
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

Researchers and developers at WestEd are developing, field-testing, and evaluating ten online professional development modules anchored in research-based teaching principles and achievement-boosting mathematics materials. The modules provide interactive learning opportunities featuring real classroom video demonstrations, simulations, and scaffolded implementation. The professional development module development builds on the Math Pathways and Pitfalls instructional modules for elementary and middle school students developed with NSF support. The professional development provided through the use of these modules is web-based (rather than face-to-face), is provided in chunks during the school year and immediately applied in the classroom (rather than summer professional development and school year application), and explicitly models ways to apply key teaching principles to regular mathematics lessons (rather than expecting teachers to extract and apply principles spontaneously).

The project studies the impact of the modules on teaching practice with an experimental design that involves 20 treatment teachers and 20 control teachers. Data are gathered from teacher questionnaires, classroom observations, and post-observation interviews.

Communities of Effective Practice: A Professional Stem Development Model for Teachers of American Indian Students

This project establishes and implements a professional development model with teachers of Native American students by creating a culturally relevant science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher in-service model. The project seeks to improve teacher preparation in science and mathematics for Native Americans by creating culturally relevant curriculum materials and providing teacher participants with structured professional development. The goal is to develop an in-service model that can be transported to other Native American nations and schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0554472
Funding Period: 
Mon, 05/01/2006 to Fri, 04/30/2010

Tool Systems to Support Progress Toward Expert-like Teaching by Early Career Science Educators

The goal of this project is to accelerate the progress of early-career and pre-service science teachers from novice to expert-like pedagogical reasoning and practice by developing and studying a system of discourse tools. The tools are aimed at developing teachers' capabilities in shaping instruction around the most fundamental science ideas; scaffolding student thinking; and adapting instruction to diverse student populations by collecting and analyzing student data on their thinking levels.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822016
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Jim Minstrell

The Development of Student Cohorts for the Enhancement of Mathematical Literacy in Under Served Populations

This project is developing and conducting research on the Cohort Model for addressing the mathematics education of students that perform in the bottom quartile on state and district tests. The predicted outcome is that most students will remain in the cohort for all four years and that almost all of those who do will perform well enough on college entrance exams to be admitted and will test out of remedial mathematics courses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822175
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Inverness Research, Inc.
Full Description: 

Project Summary

This is a Full Research and Development proposal which addresses the Contextual Challenge: How can the learning of significant STEM content be achieved to ensure public literacy and workforce readiness?  Our nation is failing to prepare millions of youth for meaningful and productive participation in an information-based society. The target population are those students performing in the bottom quartile on state and national tests, many of these are children of color living in under resourced communities, and most of these young people do not finish high school and end up diverted into an underground economy, gangs, and prisons.   

This project addresses this failure by further developing and testing an approach that the Algebra Project is developing for high school mathematics, in which students form a cohort that stays together for all four years of high school, study mathematics every day using project-designed curricular materials with teachers who participate in project professional development, and are supported by local community groups. 

The Algebra Project seeks to stimulate a demand for math literacy in those most affected by its absence -- the young people themselves.  It stresses the importance of peer culture, using lessons learned from experiences in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, as well as in the emergence of project graduates into a group with their own perspectives and initiatives. 

In the 60s, project founders learned how to use the meeting place as a tool to engage and empower the people that the meeting was intended to serve.  In the proposed project, there are two meeting places: the students’ high school mathematics classroom and supplementary education activities; and the network of sites around the country that are communicating and learning how to develop and implement cohorts. Young peoples’ roles in each of these settings are key to creating the motivation and commitment needed for student success as well as developing local interest.  The combination of classroom and professional development work, innovative curriculum materials, and community involvement creates an intervention that can significantly transform the peer culture, even in the face of negative forces.

The Algebra Project has developed a cohort model that we predict will stimulate and enable students to pass the state and district mandated tests in mathematics, to pass the mathematics portions of any graduation test, and to score well enough on the SAT or ACT to enter college, and to place into mathematics courses for college credit (not remedial courses).  Building on previous awards, the project will continue to research and develop the cohort model, and will create a small network of cohorts to establish that our model can be widely successful.

Intellectual merit:  This project will demonstrate how students entering high school performing in the bottom quartile nationally and state-wide can be prepared for college-level mathematics, using lessons learned from many years of past experience working in such communities and in their middle schools, and more recently in their high schools and in collaboration with university mathematicians.  The research results are critical to the nation’s learning how to improve mathematics achievement for all children – to gaining a sense of what such a program “looks and feels like”, and what resources and commitments are required, from which institutions. 

Broader impact:  The results of this discovery research project will advance understanding of how to improve mathematics learning and achievement in low performing districts, so students are prepared to take college mathematics without repeating high school mathematics in early college.  It will also demonstrate the resources and commitments needed to reach this result.

Transition to Algebra: A Habits of Mind Approach

This research and development project provides resources for ninth-grade mathematics students and teachers by developing, piloting, and field-testing intervention modules designed as supplementary materials for Algebra 1 classes (e.g., double-period algebra). Rather than developing isolated skills and reviewing particular topics, these materials aim to foster the development of mathematical habits of mind—in particular, the algebraic habit of abstracting from calculations, a key unifying idea in the transition from arithmetic to algebra.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0917958
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Jim Hammerman, TERC
Full Description: 

Transition to Algebra, A Habits of Mind Approach, is aimed at very quickly giving students the mathematical knowledge, skill, and confidence to succeed in algebra, and showing them that they can be good at things they believed they couldn't do. The students were all smart and intrepid when they were six. Even now, they are better and more persevering than we are about figuring out their smartphones and video games. Transition to Algebra aims to tap that smart, intrepid, persevering spirit of puzzling things out and making sense of them by presenting mathematics based in common sense, not arbitrary rules.

This project is developing a collection of modules introducing key ideas of algebra in ways that complement the core curriculum when a school is offering double period algebra. The key habit of mind being developed is abstracting from calculation. Modules deal with the transition from arithmetic to algebra, rational numbers, expressions/equations/word problems, graphs and equations, geometry of algebra, and proportional reasoning. The target population is students in urban high poverty schools with a significant ELL sector.

Our hypothesis is that instructional materials focused on developing conceptual understanding and mathematical habits of mind can complement traditional skill-focused algebra instruction in ways that are engaging to students. Furthermore, they argue that using materials with such meta-cognitive aims will actually strengthen the learning of core algebraic concepts and skills.

The supplementary algebra modules are being developed by a form of design research. Concurrent with development and field test of the student and teacher materials, the investigators are addressing four research questions. The first two questions are focused on the effects of the intervention in developing student habits of mind and in improving their competence and confidence in algebra. The other two address the feasibility of implementing the new approach to double-period algebra in a variety of school settings. A small-scale quasi-experimental field test is being used to give preliminary estimates of the effectiveness of the instructional materials and the implementation guidelines. The core purpose of these research activities is to inform development and refinement of the student and teacher instructional materials.

Products of this development effort will be a valuable resource to schools as they devise strategies for helping all students master the essentials of elementary algebra.

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