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Annual Overview

submitter: Students Using Mathematics Successfully
published: 12/10/1998
posted to site: 12/10/1998

Students Using Mathematics Successfully (SUMS) ESI-9552868

California State University, Fullerton & Santa Ana Unified School District

End-of-Year 2–Beginning of Year 3 Report November 12, 1998

The Students Using Mathematics Successfully (SUMS) Project will use the current California Mathematics Framework (1992) and National Council of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards (1989), as models for the professional development of 1620 teachers, and 480 instructional assistants & administrators (Grades Pre K-9) from the Santa Ana Unified School District. The project will galvanize parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, and community advocates who expect quality education for students. Specifically, the goals of this project are to change:

  • the classroom behavior of teachers and students as they do mathematics to reflect the reform efforts outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

  • teachers' attitudes and self-confidence in doing mathematics themselves and teaching mathematics.

  • schools’ current parent involvement efforts in mathematics education to reflect reform thinking for parental involvement, including parents as resources in schools and in the community.

  • schools' current community/business partner involvement efforts in mathematics education to reflect reform thinking for community/business partner support.

  • students' abilities to do mathematics in ways reflected in the NCTM Standards and Addenda Series, e.g. investigations, problem solving.

  • the current district textbook series and help teachers successfully implement the newly selected state mathematics adoption, K-9.

  • teachers' expectations of mathematical achievement for minority students to reflect the reform philosophy that all students can do mathematics, including Limited English Proficient (LEP) students.

  • teachers’ expectations of mathematical achievement for female students to reflect the Gender Equity Agenda that girls should be encouraged as much as boys.

Over a five year period, all teachers, instructional assistants, and administrators from pre-K to grade 9 (2100 participants) will participate in two years (100 hours) of staff development in mathematics content and pedagogy with emphasis on newly-adopted instructional materials and reform. Ongoing support of this instruction will include implementation of site-based Action Plans focusing on teacher discourse, reflection, and classroom observation and coaching, resulting in an additional 100 hours of participation. Parents, community and business partners will learn about reform as well as assist in the reform effort through site-based events and activities resulting in another 100 hours of participation. As part of the district's commitment to the project, two district-wide staff development days a year will be devoted to mathematics, involving all teachers, instructional assistants, and administrators.

Major Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

  • The project began in July of 1996, so at this point, the participants in Cohort 1 have completed their second year of 8 professional development sessions per year. Two of these sessions are the two district-wide staff development days involving all teachers and administrators in the district. The participants of Cohort 2 have completed their first year, and the participants of Cohort 3 have begun their first year of professional development. As with any new project, it has been an interesting and energizing experience, made somewhat more challenging by a new state initiative to reduce class size in the primary grades. The initiative has resulted in a scarcity of classroom space and substitute teachers. As a result, we have not been able to process the numbers of teachers we planned for in the grant. This does not mean that we will not be able to meet the goals of the grant, however, it probably will mean it will require 6 years, rather than 5 to completely train all the teachers. This expectation has been mentioned in an e-mail to the program officer, Joyce Evans.

    We have overcome these obstacles, obtaining two dedicated rooms for professional development. at one of the high schools (Valley HS). We have done a pretty good job of solving the substitute problem by hiring additional subs for SUMS. Unfortunately, several have taken full-time positions in the district, so this is an ongoing problem. To get a better handle on this problem for the third year, we have been working with the district Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources to build up the district's sub pool and we are using subs from this pool. The teachers now request the substitute when needed instead of having this done by the SUMS office staff because the process became too time consuming. This new procedure has worked out much better, freeing up the SUMS coordinators to focus on more important tasks, including writing the substitute teacher lesson plan (math units) and training the substitutes.

  • SUMS year 2 results were improved over year 1 overall. This was a result of everyone learning from mistakes and making midcourse adjustments to improve the program. Whereas the professional development sessions for year 1 focused on the grade 4-5 teachers at the elementary level and grade 6 teachers at the middle school level, the Cohort 2 curriculum focused on the K-3 level teachers while stressing a professional development curriculum that spans the K-5 levels. This worked out a lot better. We did not have a new middle school cohort begin in year 2, instead, we have begun a cohort 2 middle grade group (grades 7-8) in year 3. Also, Cohort 3 has many new teachers hired as part of the class-size reduction initiative. They are extra enthusiastic about receiving the professional development training.

    The curriculum for the sessions has been well planned by the instructional consultants who have in turn done a good job of preparing the seventeen teams of instructors to present the lessons to the participants. The instructors have done a good job of presenting the lessons overall, with definite improvements noted from year 1 and year 2 in terms of organization, presentation skills, etc. The work done by having each team do a self-reflection on team preparation, participation in the instructor training, trying the ideas in their classroom prior to the SUMS session presentation, organization of their instruction, effectiveness of presentation, sensitivity to the needs of the participants, pacing, mathematical understanding, and areas of weakness and room for improvement has paid off. We continue to have the instructional consultants and instructors reflect on their presentations. We have used these reflections to help instructors do a better job. In a couple of cases, we have replaced instructors who were not doing as good a job as is needed. Overall, our evaluations at the end of year 2 were very encouraging (a copy of an article to appear in the SUMS newsletter is attached) and the first evaluations of Year 3 have been extremely positive.

  • In year 1 SUMS formed an administrator advisory board made up of 12 principals or assistant principals, the director of staff development, the project coordinators and the PI. This group meets monthly to address issues related to SUMS operations, including, collecting surveys, teacher attendance at SUMS, principal attendance at SUMS, newsletter articles, report of SUMS professional development sessions, etc. This board has been a valuable resource in terms of advice and heading off potential problems dealing with district protocol and continued to meet monthly during year 2. It will continue to meet monthly during year 3 and all meeting dates are in place. The first meeting was August 4, 1998.

  • SUMS started its parent training component in January 1997. Teams of two parents and one teacher have attended from each school to receive leadership training in Family Math. This continued in year 2 and all schools have trained at least one team so far. In Year 3, so far we have trained a group of Middle School parents and teachers.

  • SUMS has initiated community/business partner involvement in two ways: 1) a partnership with AmeriCorps involving homework centers in schools and community centers; 2) a partnership with the Santa Ana Public Library to place children's literature books that integrate math in SUMS professional development libraries (the books are used in the SUMS professional development curriculum); 3) a partnership with Allergan Corporation, which has helped fund the district Math Field Day; and 4) a partnership with Santa Ana Networks, a consortium of CSU Fullerton, University of California, Irvine, Santa Ana College and Santa Ana Unified School District, that has helped support Math Clubs and Family Math. The AmeriCorps project did not seek re-funding so that partnership has been phased out. It was replaced by Santa Ana Networks, funded by the Ford Foundation, that has also supported homework centers and Saturday Math for middle school students and parents. Dr. Pagni is a member of the Networks Steering Committee.

    SUMS has also developed a relationship with the office of the mayor, the mayor being a dignitary who helped launch the SUMS project with media coverage. The mayor also makes a presentation of the annual Santa Ana/CSU Fullerton Mathematics Scholarship each fall. This year (1998) we published and distributed our first SUMS Business Leaders newsletter with the goal of increasing business/school partnerships. We monitor all business partnerships by checking bi-annually with site principals and publishing a list of these partnerships.

  • The new mathematics adoption for the district receives SUMS support through professional development. There have been some problems with participant expectations in that teachers think SUMS is teaching the adoption. The SUMS newsletter and discussions with administrators and teachers have helped to clarify this--essentially, SUMS is responsible for the professional development of teachers while the adoption support comes through usual district channels, including publishers representatives, mentor teachers, and the SUMS Site Support Providers. Site Support Providers were trained in cognitive coaching by Marilyn Tabor and receive monthly training on the adopted series and SUMS issues. This new year 3, the district will also be committing a team of math mentors, assigned so that every school will have a mentor, to also work with the SSPs to support on-side staff development in support of the adopted materials as supplementary materials.

  • In 1998 the district superintendent, Dr. Al Mijares, placed special emphasis on math and reading through his ATM (Above The Mean) program. Students will spend extra time on math in order to work on the basics as well as conceptual understanding. SUMS has been supportive of this effort.

  • California has adopted a new set of Mathematics Standards and the district has adopted the same Standards as well as organizing the Standards in various booklets designed for various grade levels and for parents. The district has also aligned the Standards with the STAR 9 content areas. SUMS has integrated these district efforts into the professional development curriculum by making participants aware of the district documents and facilitating discussion of issues related to both.

  • California voters passed Proposition 227 in 1997 but which is being implemented beginning July 1998. This law essentially does away with bilingual education. However, parents may opt to have their children in bilingual classes, but request must come from parents. As a result, there are some bilingual classes offered but for the most part teachers and principals as immersing children in English. SUMS continues to support the district's goals in this area. Professional development sessions promote effective math teaching strategies for reaching all students. We will probably cut back on the number of materials we translate into Spanish, but we will follow the district lead in the area.

  • SUMS began training a special cohort of pre-school teachers during year 2. These teachers are responsible for the state pre-school program and receive a special curriculum related to the age of the child they teach. They will receive the same number of hours of training as the K-5 teachers.

  • SUMS has replaced its lead evaluator with the knowledge and approval of NSF program officer Joyce Evans. Dr. Evelyn Hawkins decided to resign her subcontract as the outside evaluator for personal reasons. She was replaced by Dr. Ruth VonBlum. Ruth was Dr. Pagni’s evaluator for an Eisenhower project that between 1992 and 1996 called Secondary SAFEMAP. It was also with the Santa Ana Unified School District. For this reason, she was a good choice because of her familiarity with the district.

    In addition, she has been working with other evaluators involved with LSC projects and as a result has been trained in the HRI Classroom Observation Protocol. It was a timely accident that she was finishing two other projects and was looking for a new project. Evelyn Hawkins, the evaluator that is leaving will stay on to transition Ruth Von Blum and may also continue as a classroom observer in order to triangulate our observations. Dr. Blum was assisted by Dr. Hawkins in preparing the SUMS Core Evaluation Report this fall.

    With respect to our current budget, we were just awarded our year 3 increment beginning October 1, 1998. This is because we had requested and received a no-cost extension from January 1, 1998 to September 30, 1998 in order to get the grant timeline in synch with our professional development timeline. The original early award date of the grant of January 1, 1996 did not match up with our start date of July 30, 1996 and as a result, we always had unexpended funds in December because we were essentially less that half way through the project year. Our current balance is $760,885.