Cross-National Comparison of School and District Supports for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction in the US and China

This RAPID project is a cross-national comparative study of U.S. and Chinese instructional support systems, building from earlier data about mathematics teaching and learning in large urban school districts of both the United States and the People's Republic of China. The study uses quantitative methods to compare and contrast the effectiveness of supports (e.g., professional development, teacher networks, school leadership) in improving teachers' instructional practices and student achievement using comparable instrumentation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1321828
Funding Period: 
September 15, 2013 to August 31, 2014
Full Description: 

Since the publication of the result that students from Shanghai, China, outperformed students from all other participating countries on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in mathematics, researchers have sought to understand why Chinese mathematics education appears to be both more successful at boosting student learning and more equitably distributed. This RAPID project is a cross-national comparative study of U.S. and Chinese instructional support systems, building from earlier data about mathematics teaching and learning in large urban school districts of both the United States and the People's Republic of China. The work is being conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Beijing Normal University. The study uses quantitative methods to compare and contrast the effectiveness of supports (e.g., professional development, teacher networks, school leadership) in improving teachers' instructional practices and student achievement using comparable instrumentation.

The study contributes to research and policy in several ways. First, it is helping to identify supports that have been particularly effective in improving mathematics teaching and learning in China. This should inform current theories about how to best support mathematics education in the United States. Second, the cross-nationally validated instruments used to collect the data can be used by other researchers investigating curricular reform implementation cross-nationally. The findings of this study are especially relevant to district leaders as they develop support and accountability systems to effectively implement the content and practice standards of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

This award is co-funded by NSF's International Science and Engineering Section, Office of International and Integrative Activities.

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