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TAASC Annual Overview

submitter: Teachers As Agents Of Systemic Change (TAASC)
published: 12/09/1999
posted to site: 12/10/1999
Local Systemic Change
PI Annual Progress Report - Year 3
Teachers as Agents of Systemic Change (TAASC)
November 1, 1999

Project Activities

Teachers as Agents of Systemic Change (TAASC) is a local systemic initiative that affects all of the grade 6 - 12 mathematics teachers in four urban, multicultural school districts near California State Polytechnic University Pomona (Cal Poly). The project run through the Center for Education and Equity in Mathematics, Science, and Technology (CEEMaST) makes use of identified mathematics teacher-leaders at each of the secondary school sites in the four districts to assist in the professional development of the target teachers in improving content knowledge and renewing pedagogical skills.

The third year began following the second year summer institute with a meeting of the District Advisory Committee (DAC). Plans for the school year were developed and professional development dates were set for the school districts. This included a five-day summer institute in place of the proposed two-day institute. Feedback from attendees had been so positive that arrangements were made to continue the same format.

Teacher-leaders from the 36 schools (six grade teachers from two newly formed academies in Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District were added) met five times during the school year for all-day professional development meetings which included mathematics content, pedagogical renewal, and leadership skills building. The October meeting concentrated on a mathematics activity and a case study related to the activity. This provided new mathematics exploration as well as an intense look into classroom practice. The November meeting coincided with California Mathematics Council-Southern Section annual meeting in Palm Springs. More than 20 leaders attended and five of them served as presenters. The February meeting explored the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and the classroom/student learning aspects of the multiple personality styles. The March meeting centered upon assessment using the same problem as in October to begin the work. In May the leaders explored classroom interaction again, based around the Kohl book I Won’t Learn from You. They came to realize the differences between those students who can’t learn and those who won’t and explored classroom techniques for dealing with both groups.

As in the last year, two identical professional development days for principals and assistant principals were held so that administrators from the project schools could be kept aware of the progress of the project and how they might help facilitate the goals of TAASC in their own schools with their own faculty. Further, two sessions for parents were held in order to keep them in the information loop as well. in addition Math Nights for parents were held at a number of schools with and without help of the project staff.

Last year 89 target teachers attended the CEEMaST annual conference. This year 133 did, a 50% increase. After school meetings were conducted by many of the teacher-leaders and school districts provided professional growth days for their faculty. These were led by project staff and/or by teacher-leaders of the district.

Early in the winter, surveys were sent to the Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC) to help determine what courses should be taught in the five-day summer institute. Based on their feedback and the evaluation completed by the previous summer’s attendees, a set of 21 courses was submitted to the target teachers. They were to select five and be assigned to three. Approximately 180 registered for the summer. Following the registration period and prior to the beginning of the institute, a state-wide project in science was set up and made mandatory by one of the districts. As a result, some teachers who had signed up for the summer institute were unable to attend and again 120 participated, many for the first time. The seventeen courses in the final schedule ranged from Number Sense/Number Theory and Teaching with Manipulatives to Calculus Refresher and Logic and Proof. They were taught by project staff, mathematics faculty from Cal Poly and Cal State San Bernardino, the Los Angeles County mathematics consultant, and various teachers from surrounding districts. Evaluations were received from 94 of the 120 participants and all but two said that they would attend another such institute. They were complimentary about the knowledge of mathematics and the ability to teach it of the instructors. All felt it was a valuable experience.

Project staff worked directly with one district in helping their mathematics faculty align their curriculum with the state standards, make choices about topics and concepts at various grade levels, and develop a scope and sequence grade six through twelve. All faculty members of the district - more than thirty spent three days in this valuable professional development activity.

Project Findings

The summer institute seems to be the best way to reach all of the target teachers. Because of the changing school situation in California, substitutes are hard for districts to find and the state has effectively eliminated professional development days within the school year. As a result some of the districts have had a difficult time providing the agreed to professional development days and we have been forced to move to after school and to conference-like activities. Even as we say this, it should be noted that all participants have now had the opportunity to receive more than 80 hours of professional development with an additional 36 being available this year of the project.

Many of the teacher-leaders are now able to conduct professional development activities on their own, within their own districts or in other projects. Two of them worked this past summer with the K - 5 TUMISA project teachers in Hacienda-La Puente teaching Mathematics for Adults Only. Five presented at the CMC conference and the CEEMaST conference. Teacher -leaders have now received in excess of 200 hours of professional development and this year will begin to assume the major responsibility for the professional development of their colleagues. Districts are beginning to recognize that they have on their faculties some talented members who will be able to carry through on professional development plans.

A relatively large problem is the turnover of faculty at the school sites. We have lost a number of teacher-leaders from the group that started, but have been able to fill in with others who seem, in some cases, more ready to lead. Further, there are constantly new teachers coming into the schools as additional hires or as replacements for those who have moved to other districts. Teacher-leaders have done an excellent job of encouraging the new hires to participate in the summer institute, often enrolling the new teachers on the first day.

The project, according to the outside evaluator, is moving on schedule. We seem to be making headway with the number of hours for target teachers. Further, the shared costs are ahead of target in spite of the major cutbacks on available school time at the state level. At the end of the third year the proposed NSF budget was $1,009,590 and the proposed contributed costs were $528,931, a ratio of $0.52 contributed for every dollar from NSF. The actual expenditure at the end of the third year was $795,819 with shared costs of $447,455, a ratio of $0.56 contributed for every dollar from NSF. (Another way to look at the contributed costs is that we have spent approximately 80% of the funding and and have contributed nearly 90% of the agreed shared costs.) The savings in NSF funds will be used to expand the summer institute in 2000 to five days with a greater number of participants. This should be possible because the science institute is earlier in the year and the districts have agreed on August 21 - 25 as the dates to keep free of other activities.

We are also increasing the minority participation in the summer institutes. The first summer was 67% other white. In summer 1999, the participants were 57% other white. We will continue our recruiting efforts to improve this even more.

Training and Development

The senior staff of the project continue to learn along with the participants. Many who taught in the summer have been involved in other projects of CEEMaST and have begun to adapt well to the demands of inservice education. The college professors have begun to develop a feeling for what goes on in the secondary school classrooms. This cannot help but make them even better teachers in their own classes. Many of the teacher-leaders have improved to the point where they are teaching us. They have learned that teaching adults is different from teaching children; and they have made the transition well.

Outreach Activities

As a result of the success with TAASC and other CEEMaST projects, project staff have been invited to work with other nearby school districts, including Baldwin Park, Bassett, Claremont, Upland, and the San Bernardino County Office of Education, in curriculum development and instructional improvement. In addition, we have met with parents in other districts as we attempt to broaden the impact of the project.