Annual Report Overviews
Annual Report Overview
The Mathematics Renaissance K-12 (MRK-12) is a five year systemic reform initiative working with districts across California. It is designed to institute a multi-year process that will help districts develop a connected and articulated mathematics program K-12. A vertical slice network composed of a high school, its feeder middle and elementary schools, is the unit of participation. The primary focus is on professional development, strengthening and/or further developing teachers' content knowledge, leadership skills and ability to address issues of equity. A Regional Director, a Renaissance staff member, coordinates the work with district slices in each region. A K-12 Network Leadership Team, composed of a teacher from each participating school (called a Site Facilitator), works with a Regional Director to guide professional development efforts. One Site Facilitator has been designated as the Network Facilitator and takes a lead role in working with the Regional Director and Leadership Team.
A Network Advocacy Team (including the Network Leadership Team, administrators, parents, counselors, and a union representative) oversees the local strategic reform plans. Assisted by the Regional Director, this group works together to develop and implement strategies for reaching and working with the entire mathematics faculty and effectively engaging the public over the three years of project participation. Their efforts will directly impact the participating schools as they will develop mechanisms for reaching other schools in their district.
Two cohorts will participate in nine geographic regions across California. Nine district networks are participating in Cohort 1, beginning participation in spring or summer, 1997. Initial funding provided support for four geographic regions, with one cohort 1 network per region. Supplemental funding from NSF and other sources provided resources for additional district networks in five other regions. More than twenty Cohort 2 districts are slated to be enrolled by December, 1997 and begin full participation during summer, 1998.
More than twenty district networks are expected to participate over the five years of the project. This initiative will connect these districts in a statewide network and link with the 17 sites of the California Mathematics Project (CMP) to provide a mechanism of sustained support beyond project funding.
The initiative also includes a small video study initiated during late summer, 1997 through an augmentation to the original grant. This study consists of two components: 1) a small comparative study of video versus observational teacher evaluation; and 2) creation of prototype video cases for professional development.
The comparative study should provide preliminary information on the kind of information one can infer about the effects of professional development from various evaluation data gathering. Data will be collected from the same classrooms simultaneously. Direct classroom observation will utilize the protocols developed by Horizon Research for the LSC core evaluation, the video analysis will utilize the TIMSS protocols, and the interview and survey data will be developed by MRK-12 from various sources.
Prototype professional development videos will be developed using clips from K-12 classrooms. These videos will be supported by mathematician commentaries, teacher interviews, samples of student work, and will have an extensive technology interface. Facilitator guides will assist teacher leaders to employ these videos in their MRK-12 professional development efforts.
District participation. There are currently nine vertical slice networks (11 districts) participating in geographically, socio-economically and ethically diverse regions of California. These districts have each made a major commitment of resources to this effort.
Funds leveraged for additional district participation. More than $ 800,000 in additional funds (other than NSF) have been leveraged to support expansion of the MRK-12 project work. The California Department of Education Eisenhower Demonstration Program, the Noyce Foundation, and individual districts are sources of this additional funding.
Leadership Development. Seventy-five teacher leaders have been selected to serve as Site Facilitators for the work. These teachers have participated in statewide residential leadership meetings and locally in network Leadership Team meetings. The Facilitators have begun their leadership work, conducting meetings and inservice activities at schools and network-wide.
Instructional Materials. Schools are beginning implementation of quality instructional materials with support from MRK-12. The elementary and middle schools are farthest along in this regard with all elementary schools are using materials advocated by MRK-12.
State policies impact districts' commitment and willingness to participate.
California's emphasis on literacy and the class size reduction have negatively impacted districts' ability to fully participate in the initiative.
The state and local political climate influences the work. Given the political climate many of the districts are concerned about public perception of their mathematics program. Inservice efforts have had to sensitively address the back to basics concerns, building into most sessions assurances that this effort will provide foundation in basic skills.
District contexts play important role in shaping the work of the initiative. We had hoped to develop a common core of inservice experiences for each district, but now find that the "common work" is around the key principles and foci, rather than the same set of activities with a shared sequence.
Implementation of new instructional materials present challenges. New instructional materials are difficult for teachers to implement without strong professional development support specifically addressing implementation issues. Nearly all of the 20 sets of materials are represented in the MRK-12 districts. In districts using the most innovative materials, teachers have floundered without support. The materials look, and are different. This certainly builds a case for needing the support of MRK-12, but this project was not intended to replace direct inservice on the materials.
Administrative Support is Crucial. Principals are key to the effort. They have to communicate the value, share the vision and support their teachers through change. We know this intellectually and we see it in practice.
Addressing issues of equity presents a difficult challenge. A major focus of the work is to address equity issues in all the professional development efforts. This has been problematic. We hope our work with the Equity in Mathematics Education Leadership Institute (EMELI) will provide project staff with the support necessary to successfully address these issues.