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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: Mathematics Renaissance K-12
published: 03/19/1999
posted to site: 03/16/1999
Mathematics Renaissance K-12 (MRK-12)
November 15, 1997 - February 28, 1999
Annual Overview

Project Description

The Mathematics Renaissance K-12 is a five-year local systemic change project designed to help school districts to develop a connected and articulated mathematics program K-12. The project institutes a multi-year professional development process to strengthen and/or further develop the content knowledge, leadership skills and ability to address issues of equity among participating teachers.

The project is designed to foster a professional development process that focuses on the big ideas of mathematics and how these ideas grow over time. The K-12 Renaissance works with teachers, administrators and parents in a district-based professional development program that holds high quality mathematics as essential to advancing mathematical literacy for all students.

Each of the fifteen vertical slice networks is composed of a high school, its feeder middle and elementary schools. Overall planning and goals are designed centrally by MRK-12 project staff, but shaped locally by a K-12 Network Leadership Team (one teacher serving as a leader from each participating school). A Network Advocacy Team (including the Network Leadership Team, administrators, parents, counselors, and a union representative) designs local community outreach efforts.

Professional development occurs in K-12, school and grade level settings and involves teachers in deepening their mathematical knowledge and their ability to analyze and improve practice. Teacher leaders participate in a focused leadership development process to build district capacity to sustain efforts beyond project participation.

Project evaluation assesses teachers' understandings of issues of classroom practice as well as the impact on that practice. A student performance assessment is used to investigate the impact on student learning. Additional evaluation tools have been designed to assist project staff to reshape project methods in response to formative feedback.

Major Accomplishments

Seventeen California districts (102 schools serving 100,000 students) participated as part of fifteen K-12 vertical slices in MRK-12. Six new slices (Cohort 2) joined the project this year. A total of approximately 2,300 teachers (1,950 elementary and 350 secondary) participated, with 110 of these teachers designated in leadership roles. Teacher leaders participated in more than 80 hours of professional development and led sessions with teachers. Professional development occurred in several settings: K-12 teacher groupings, elementary teacher groups, school and grade level seminars. A variety of summer professional development sessions were conducted.

A student performance assessment was administered in Spring 1998. Scoring sessions involving teachers combined rigorous training in scoring rubrics with professional development centered in student work. The results of the assessment demonstrated that whereas students at grade 4 could identify and extend patterns, they lacked the ability to generalize to make a prediction. Students at grades 8 and 10 failed to demonstrate their ability to generalize or use algebraic formulation of a generalization. These findings prompted a professional development focus on generalization this year. Student work from the performance assessment provided a tool for many professional development sessions.

Lessons Learned

The following is a summary of the lessons learned this year.

  1. The power of administrative support. Administrators providing support confer credibility on project efforts.

  2. A K-12 approach promotes a more coherent, high quality mathematics program. Professional development that takes a big picture approach to mathematics provides teachers with a perspective lacking in most grade-specific work. The "big picture" perspective provides opportunities to focus on the "big ideas" rather than the day-to-day small pieces.

  3. Staff stability/instability is an important factor in reform. There was a high transient rate among both teachers and administrators in many of the low socio-economic districts, limiting impact on long-term change.

  4. MRK-12 impacts more than mathematics programs. Districts have acknowledged a K-12, articulated approach of MRK-12 as a powerful model for reform by adopting similar approaches in other disciplines.

  5. Change can occur even in an adverse political environment. In spite of the negative policies in California impacting mathematics education, there is evidence that MRK-12 professional development is creating a productive impact on teachers.