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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Report

submitter: Chicago Secondary Mathematics Improvement Project
published: 02/26/1998
posted to site: 02/26/1998

Chicago Secondary Mathematics Improvement Project

A. Description of professional development activities

The Chicago Secondary Mathematics Improvement Program (CSMIP) began in the spring of 1997 working with Chicago public school teachers using the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP). Our professional development provides experience with both the mathematical content and teaching strategies necessary to achieve the goal of changing curriculum and teaching practices. The process of incorporating the pedagogical and curricular content of IMP into a teacher's practice is designed to bring her/his classroom much closer to that advocated by the new Illinois and Chicago standards and, in general, by the math reform movement.

In our first four months of our project, supported by an Eisenhower grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, we worked with 43 teachers. Each teacher received between 18 and 75 hours of professional development workshops organized around the curriculum for IMP1, 2 and 4. Each workshop integrated appropriate use of the graphing calculator and practice in using manipulatives to support multiple means of representation of the mathematical situations involved in problems. In addition, four teacher leaders were involved in between 30 and 100 hours of guided practice in leading workshops and conferencing with new IMP1 teachers following classroom visits.

The schedule of professional development workshops is summarized in the core evaluation report as follows:

Between May 1 and August 31, CSMIP carried out several series of workshops for teachers. these included:

  • Spring Institute: 15 hours over four sessions to introduce teachers to the IMP1 curriculum and the unit titled the "Game of Pig".

  • Summer Institute: Two components: First, working in pairs, teachers taught the "Game of Pig" to summer school students in their own schools. Second, teachers attended 36 hours of inservice workshops. These activities took place in late June and over the month of July.

  • In late July, three additional sessions (18 hours) were held for new teachers to explore two additional IMP1 units.

  • An IMP4 workshop (18 hours) was held in late July.

  • A one-week (30 hours) workshop for teachers beginning IMP2 was held in August.

  • A one-week (30 hours) workshop for new teachers beginning IMP1 was also held in August. This workshop supported teachers who were not able to attend the spring and summer institutes. (Evaluation report p. 2)

The numbers of teachers participating and the curriculum at each level of workshops is summarized here:

IMP1 Thirty of the teachers participated in workshops with the dual focus on the curriculum of IMP 1 and on initial efforts to develop a collaborative classroom. Particular attention focused on developing teachers' questioning techniques to assist students in furthering their mathematical understanding and expanding teacher capacity to build an environment in the classroom which supports mathematical discourse. Teachers practiced the approaches of making group presentations and sharing the thinking of their groups in the workshops, both of which are essential elements in a successful IMP classroom. Half of these teachers participated in the full Summer Institute, team-teaching The Game of Pig.

IMP2 Eight teachers worked on mathematical issues underlying the concept of statistical difference between two groups using the chi-squared test, the concepts involved in perimeter, area and volume, and continued their discussion and growth in capacity to sustain student engagement in collaborative investigation and discussion.

IMP4 Five teachers worked on two units of the fourth year curriculum focusing on circular functions, three-dimensional linear programming, and use of a graphing calculator to produce animated three-dimensional geometric representations to teach translations and rotations in a coordinate system.

B. Staff-development curriculum

Our curriculum for teachers is consistent with the NCTM Standards for Professional Development for Teachers, and incorporates the following:

  1. Staff development is fundamentally a modeling process. Participants are given the opportunity to actively work together on the mathematics of IMP units and engage in mathematical discourse. We create an environment that encourages reasoning and supports teachers to work both independently and collaboratively. As they progress through the material they see for themselves what a different classroom could look like.

  2. Teachers learn the mathematics of the standards-based curriculum. Many concepts and skills emphasized in state and national standards have not been a part of many teachers' preparation.

  3. Teachers share with peers successes and problems arising in the process of implementing a standards-based approach to math education.

  4. Teachers develop awareness of equity issues with particular reference to African-American, Latino and female students.

  5. Teachers accept responsibility for creating an intellectual environment in which serious mathematical thinking by students is the norm.

  6. Teachers recognize the need for having higher expectations of their students through extensive discussion of the processes and aspects of understanding students as learners of mathematics.

  7. Teachers discuss and share experience in areas of mathematics education including:

    1. assessment - use of portfolios, communication of mathematical understanding through individual student and group presentations, review actual student papers using existing rubrics and develop individual rubrics to assess holistically

    2. use of manipulatives

    3. using technology in the classroom - including graphing calculators and computers

    4. methods for organizing and developing mathematical discourse among students

    5. questioning techniques

    6. cooperative group learning techniques

C. Degree of implementation

As we prepared to begin our first academic year of the program we had schools in the following degree of implementation:

Full implementation:
Foreman High School IMP1 for all freshmen, 8 out of 11 teachers are involved in professional development by the project; purchase of IMP1, 2 and 3 materials for all students
Future Commons IMP is math curriculum for all students; 2 out of 2 teachers involved in professional development; purchase of IMP1 and 2 materials for all students
ACORN Charter School IMP1 is curriculum for all freshmen including bilingual students. 1st year for school; 1 out of 1 math teachers involved in professional development; purchase of IMP1 materials and duplication of Spanish language materials for students
ACT IMP 1 is curriculum for all freshmen. 1 out of 1 math teachers involved in professional development
Cornerstone Academy (private drop out retrieval school) All students using IMP 1 as math curriculum; 1 out of 1 teacher involved
Perspectives Charter School IMP 1 is curriculum for all freshmen. 1 out of 1 math teachers involved in professional development
Wells Full implementation for freshmen; 2 out of 7 teachers involved in professional development; commitment of remaining staff to future workshops by end of 1998; purchase of IMP1 materials for all students

Partial implementation:
Clemente 3 out of 15 teachers involved in professional development; principal states commitment to full implementation; 2 sophomore classes using IMP2 as curriculum
Corliss 2 out of 8 teachers involved in professional development; 8 sections of freshmen using IMP1 as curriculum.
DuSable 8 out of 8 teachers involved in professional development; 3 teachers using curriculum with sophomores
Benjamin Mays Middle College 1 out of 1 teacher using IMP 1 with selected classes

Pilot implementation:
Bowen 1 out of 10 teachers involved; 1 sections of freshmen taking IMP 1
South Shore 1 out of 10 teachers involved in professional development; using combination of IMP 1 and 2 with selected sophomores and juniors

D. District policies and their effect on LSC reforms

As was pointed out in the evaluation report this number of teachers indicates that we are on target with our goals for teacher involvement in the project. There were however several obstacles to involving our original target schools.

Although the number of teachers attending these workshops was adequate, this was a difficult year to undertake extensive summer inservice in Chicago. Three factors contributed to a somewhat lower than desired level of attendance. These were:

  1. Because the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is changing their calendar to begin in late-August rather than September, teachers ended the last school year on the old calendar (late June) yet began the current school year on the new calendar, shortening their summer break by about two weeks.

  2. CPS began a summer "bridge" program this year requiring a high percentage of former 8th graders to take an intensive summer school program in order to enter high school. Many teachers were required to teach in this program.

  3. CPS initiated a program to "reconstitute" several probationary secondary schools whose test scores were low, allowing the central administration to dismiss teachers and principals in these schools. This led to a high level of uncertainty over the summer and the dissolution of some mathematics departments whose teachers had intended to participate. (Evaluation report p.2-3)

We were able however to revise our original plan and added the second session of IMP 1 workshops. This enabled us to attract the newly hired math teachers from the three charter high schools which opened this fall in Chicago. Their participation was a strength based on their commitment to innovation and serving student needs which is part of the mission of charter schools as currently defined in Illinois.

In the traditional full service high schools, the continued emphasis by the central administration of CPS on scores on the TAP test (Riverside Publishers Test of Academic Proficiency) cause many principals to be nervous about using a standards-based curriculum. In spite of the adoption of standards-based Chicago Academic Standards, the TAP emphasizes single step procedures and problems. While the traditional curriculum has not served students well on this test, many principals feel that teaching "the basics" will produce higher test scores. There is significant work to be done with administrators to have them understand the importance of conceptually based mathematics.

As indicated in the evaluation, one major problem is the lack of coordination with and support from the CSI (Chicago systemic Initiative) . In spite of teacher interest in IMP, there is no encouragement from CSI or the CPS mathematics coordinators who have previously worked for CSI towards using exemplary materials. This appears to be true at the elementary as well as secondary levels. More active support from CSI could strengthen our ability to achieve LSC goals. We are currently pursuing efforts to have more coordination with the CSI.

E. Lessons learned and their effect on development of ongoing plans

Although full implementation of LSC participation has only been achieved at a number of small schools and two full service high schools, it is significant to note that for the first time there is involvement across the city in every region of the district by classroom teachers in significant discussion about changing the secondary curriculum. We feel that in addition to supporting the existing teachers this next year, it will be a major focus of the project to identify and recruit additional schools in every region.

One challenge in achieving this goal will be determining an effective strategy for working with those schools that continue to be on academic probation. Each such school has an external university partner which is responsible for supporting organizational and curricular developments that will improve achievement of students. We are attempting to strengthen our contacts and working relationships with two of the external partners, The Chicago Teachers' Center, a division of Northeastern Illinois University and the Small School Workshop, a program affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago. We also are pursuing a strategy of targeting two or three regions for our major emphasis. In our first effort at a regional emphasis, we are currently offering standards-based curriculum and teaching workshops to schools in Region 2. This series of professional development seminars is being funded by the Regional Educational Officer.

A further challenge is the issue of teacher mobility. Enrollment varies from year to year at many schools creating a certain level of uncertainty among staff for the first several years of their working for CPS. This was heightened this year with large scale staffing changes due to schools being reconstituted. Three of the teachers who received the initial thirty hours of professional development in summer 1997 are not currently teaching IMP. These teachers are still working for CPS and we hope to be able to continue working with them to provide the full professional development program. We will need to develop a plan for dealing with the mobility of teachers as we provide the full 130 hours of professional development.

A goal which has become clear in the first several months of this grant is to increase our work with administrators and counselors in order to strengthen the infrastructure support for change in the classroom. In the past we have only had one or two contacts per year with each principal. We are attempting to make ongoing discussions with administrators more of a priority. Our experience shows that principals need to be well armed to defend their use of exemplary materials in the climate of emphasis on scores on the TAP test. Although we do not have funds in our grant to do significant data collection of student test scores, we are seeking additional funding in order to support our claims concerning IMP students performance on standardized tests.

One of the major lessons from the summer experience was the necessity of being flexible and the importance of developing a wide variety of forms for teachers to be involved in professional development. A single model of the Summer Institute, while providing the strongest foundation for successful implementation of a standards-based mathematics classroom, is not able to involve all teachers and meet their needs for professional development. Some teachers are not willing to work in the summer; others have ongoing commitments which preclude involvement in the Summer Institute.