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COMMSTEP Annual Overview

submitter: Colorado Mathematics Middle School Teacher Enhancement Project (COMMSTEP)
published: 12/02/1999
posted to site: 12/03/1999
Project Activities-Overview

The four-and-one-half year Colorado Mathematics Middle School Teacher Enhancement Project (COMMSTEP) supports 330 teachers in 44 Colorado schools for professional development and implementation of standards-based instruction and assessment through the use of exemplary NSF-funded middle school instructional materials in mathematics. This Local Systemic Change through Teacher Enhancement in Mathematics, Grades 7-12, project builds upon the successful work of the Colorado Statewide Systemic Initiative and TEAM 2000, a high school Teacher Enhancement project.

Middle schools whose students attend high schools implementing the Interactive Mathematics Program as part of Colorado's TEAM 2000 project serve as COMMSTEP primary target schools. Major components of the project include (1) examination and selection of materials, choosing from among Connected Mathematics Program (CMP), MathScape: Seeing and Thinking Mathematically, and Mathematics in Context; (2) annual summer institutes; (3) monthly or quarterly school-year workshops; and (4) monthly meetings with COMMSTEP teacher mentors and on-line telecommunications support.

Over the life of the project, the entire mathematics faculties in partnering middle schools participate in COMMSTEP. Sixth-grade teachers attend a two-week summer institute followed by nine monthly school-year workshops, and fully implement their school's chosen instructional materials during their first year of participation. Seventh- and eighth-grade teachers phase in their school's materials over a two-year period. These teachers attend one-week summer institutes followed by four quarterly school-year workshops for two years. All middle grades teachers receive two years of workshop and mentor support.

In addition to the required LSC core evaluation, the project collects two other important kinds of data: (1) student achievement data and (2) data that describes district capacity to support high quality mathematics curriculum and teaching (e.g., district capacity to support reform-oriented classroom practices), comparing COMMSTEP schools/districts with other school districts.

Summary of major activities and accomplishments

  • COMMSTEP's Project Director enrolled 330 teachers from 44 Colorado middle schools during Spring 2000.

  • COMMSTEP's 1999 Summer Institute was held June 14-25, 1999.

    Timeline Participants
    June 14-18, 1999 51 sixth-grade teachers
    (45 for CMP & 6 for MathScape)
    June 21-25, 1999 47 sixth-grade teachers
    (41 for CMP & 6 for MathScape)
    61 seventh- & eighth-grade teachers
    (40 for CMP & 21 for MathScape)
    June 24, 1999 27 administrators

  • COMMSTEP conducts monthly workshops throughout the school year. Workshops are conducted on Wednesday and repeated the following Saturday. September workshops focused on patterns and models across grade levels. October workshops focused on effective use of collaborative groups and number sense.

    Timeline Participants
    Wednesday, 9/23/99 28 sixth-grade teachers, 20 seventh-grade teachers & 17 eighth-grade teachers
    Saturday, 9/25/99 16 sixth-grade teachers, 11 seventh-grade teachers & 13 eighth-grade teachers
    Wednesday, 10/20/99 30 sixth-grade teachers
    Saturday, 10/23/99 9 sixth-grade teachers

  • COMMSTEP's Leadership Team has regular monthly meetings with additional meetings scheduled as needed.

  • COMMSTEP's Advisory Board has been finalized. The Board will hold its first meeting March 2-3, 2000.

  • COMMSTEP received supplemental funding from the Denver-based Rose Community Foundation allowing the project to increase the number of teacher mentors and thus the frequency of classroom visits. The project's original design had three (FTE) mentors and the project director working with 110 teachers during the 1999-2000 school year. With Rose Community Foundation support, the project now has five (FTE) mentors and the project director meeting regularly with participating teachers.

    The Rose Foundation also requested that COMMSTEP develop benchmarks against which project progress could be measured. The Foundation is very supportive of the HRI teacher performance indicators. In addition, COMMSTEP was asked to develop a benchmark specific to student achievement.

    COMMSTEP created a pre/post-test that will be used this year with all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the project. There will be a separate assessment for each grade level, even though some questions may appear at more than one grade level. The pre-tests were administered in October 1999 and the post-tests will be administered in May 2000. The test will consist of five multiple-choice items, five 5-minute items, and one 15-minute item. The test is designed to be completed in a 45-minute class period. However, students may have additional time if needed. Calculators may be used on the tests.

    Test items were selected from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the New Standards Project, and from three middle school mathematics curricula: Connected Mathematics, Mathematics in Context, and MathScape. The student results on NAEP and TIMSS questions will be compared to national and international student data. Student results will be analyzed and reported to the Rose Community Foundation as well as the National Science Foundation.

    Pre- and post tests will be scored this coming summer at a scoring conference June 12-14, 2000. COMMSTEP middle school teachers, TEAM 2000 high school teachers, and pre-service teachers will be involved in the scoring conference. This conference will enhance the professional development of participating teachers.

    There are 100 teachers participating in COMMSTEP this year. The project anticipates having pre/post-test data for at least 8,000 Colorado middle school students.