Austin Independent School District collaborates with the College of Education and the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and with the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas in a 54-month NSF Local Systemic Change project. The project targets all K-8 teachers of mathematics where each teacher participates in at least 126 hours of formal professional development in summer institutes, academic year sessions, campus level support, and classroom coaching, linked with the implementation of comprehensive, standards-based instructional materials in mathematics. The curricula being used are the NSF-supported Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in grades K-5 and the Connected Mathematics Project in grades 6-8.
The Austin Collaborative seeks to 1) build on sound and proven practice in mathematics education, 2) implement consistent mathematics curricula by providing a common learning experience for every teacher in every school, and 3) create a professional development strategy that is intensive, on-going and a part of every teacher's day, every day. Intensive staff development is conducted by grade level, beginning with grades 5 and 6 in the first year and moving outward each year so that once a student starts, there are no gaps in the delivery of the new standards-based mathematics program. In year 2, grades 4 and 7 are targeted.
Release days during the following school year give teachers the opportunity to share experiences, reflect and ask questions. Cohort teachers come together in the second summer and the following school year. The third component is campus based and includes work of designated campus mathematics specialists who conduct training and coach or team-teach with teachers in the building. District level mathematics specialists support implementation through regular classroom visits and coaching. Campus mathematics specialists and principals participate in "leadership" activities designed to enhance their ability to support teachers in the implementation of standards based resources. Evaluation of the Austin Collaborative for Mathematics Education focuses on student achievement of all student groups, including scores on the state mandated assessment, TAAS; percentage of students passing algebra; end-of-course exam results for Algebra 1; and enrollment in advanced AISD mathematics courses. Other indicators of the Collaborative impact are the administrative support on each campus for teacher collaboration time, community support, coordinated districtwide professional development, the retention of new teachers, and presentations at professional meetings.