Supporting improvements in the quality of mathematics teaching on a large scale

Research on the teaching and learning of mathematics has made significant progress in recent years. However, this work has had only limited impact on classroom instruction in many countries. We report on an eight-year project in which we partnered with several large urban school districts in the U.S. that were attempting to support mathematics teachers’ development of ambitious, inquiry-oriented instructional practices.  We first give and overview of the project and describe these researcher-practitioner partnerships, which were conducted as design research studies at the system level.  We then present findings as they relate to key elements of a coherent system for instructional improvement. These elements include: explicit student learning goals and an associate vision of high-quality mathematics instruction; curriculum materials and associated resources; pull-out teacher professional development; school-based teacher collaborative meetings; teachers’ informal professional networks; teacher leaders’ practices in providing job-embedded support for other teachers’ learning; and supplemental supports for currently struggling students. We conclude by arguing that additional studies are needed that frame large-scale instructional improvement as an explicit focus of investigation if mathematics education research is to realize its potential by contributing to improvements in the quality of mathematics instruction for large numbers of students.

Cobb, P. Jackson, K., Smith, H., & Henrick, E. (2017). Supporting improvements in the quality of mathematics teaching on a large scale. In S. Doff & A. Bikner (Eds.), How does change happen? New York: Springer.