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RAMP Annual Overview

submitter: Realizing Achievement in Mathematics Performance
published: 12/16/1999
posted to site: 12/17/1999
NSF Award Number 9819542

Realizing Achievement in Mathematics Performance

I. Overview and Activities

A. Overview:
Funded under the guidelines for Local Systemic Change (LSC) through Teacher Enhancement in Mathematics, the four-year Realizing Achievement in Mathematics Performance (RAMP) project supports all 980 teachers of mathematics, grades K-12, in the Durham Public Schools for professional development, implementation of standards-based instructional materials in mathematics, and the systemic support to sustain the implementation. Durham Public Schools (DPS) is the sixth largest public school district in North Carolina, with approximately 29,000 students in grades K-12.

The Durham Public Schools' vision for K-12 mathematics and of mathematics reform is that all teachers are providing quality mathematics instruction. We will know that this vision has been achieved when all students are successfully learning challenging mathematics content in inviting and exciting learning environments with appropriate materials. Furthermore, all administrators at both the district and school level will support the teaching and learning of mathematics with effective leadership, teacher recruitment and evaluation, necessary policies, and sufficient budgetary resources. Most importantly, there will exist an organizational culture that supports continuous improvement for teachers, students, and administrators and in which professional development is ongoing for everyone.

Through participation in the NSF-funded Leadership for Urban Mathematics Reform project with the Education Development Center (EDC) from 1994-97 and with further district support for leadership development since that project ended, DPS has developed a group of teacher leaders in mathematics. EDC continues in Project RAMP as a provider of K-12 mathematics education leadership development for the teacher leaders. Various types of professional development in RAMP (e.g., courses on mathematical content and pedagogy, curricular implementation workshops, school-based study groups, demonstration teaching and individual coaching) are led by mathematicians and mathematics educators from the Durham area, consultants from the publishers of the DPS-adopted mathematics instructional materials, the school-based teacher leaders, and six, full-time, district-wide Mathematics Specialists.

Elementary schools are implementing Investigations in Number, Data, and. Middle Schools are implementing Mathscape. The high schools are offering a new integrated mathematics course sequence alongside a traditional sequence, with NSF-supported instructional materials, Contemporary Math in Context (Core Plus), in the integrated courses.

In addition to the required LSC core evaluation, RAMP plans an extensive evaluation component around student achievement. Because the district already has an extensive database of achievement test results, Project RAMP will be able to conduct trend analyses, using the implementation date of the new materials as a "break-point."

The goals of project RAMP are:

Goal 1 Provide comprehensive staff development for all mathematics teachers in grades K-12 as they implement an instructional program and materials consistent with NCTM standards.

Goal 2 Create an infrastructure that supports ongoing, collegial professional development in mathematics education.

Goal 3 Build administrative and community support for continuous improvement in mathematics education.

B. Major Activities & Accomplishments for the initial grant period (5/1/99 to 8/31/99):

K-12 RAMP Leaders
Training for project RAMP began on June 14 & 15, 1999 with a two day session for all K-12 teacher leaders that will be leading professional development for 1999-2000. A total of 92 teachers were involved for the two days of RAMP "kick-off". Barbara Miller from the Education Development Center (EDC), Everly Broadway, Lead PI, and the six newly appointed Mathematics Specialists (teachers on special assignment) conducted the two day sessions. The agenda included clarifying the vision of Project RAMP, an Introduction to Designing Professional Development (based on Loucks Horsley's work), an introduction to the TIMSS study, and familiarization with North Carolina's revised Mathematics curriculum.

Elementary (K-5)
a. June 16-17, 1999 (10 hours) Professional development for the 61 Elementary RAMP Teacher Leaders involved an introduction to the structure of the Investigations curriculum, especially the first two units of the curriculum. (All elementary teachers will be teaching 3 or 4 units of Investigations this year. We are phasing in Investigations units over a 3 year period.) The three elementary Mathematics Specialists provided subsequent support for the RAMP leaders to help them in preparation for their leading sessions with all K-5 teachers. This support included: scripts for the professional development sessions; "leader boxes" containing all manipulatives, handouts, and materials for the sessions; and individual consultation. The RAMP leaders work in pairs and great care is taken in pairing leaders and in selecting the groups of schools that will be placed together in professional development sessions.

b. July 12-13, 1999 (10 hours) Professional Development for 104 K-5 teachers that teach in year-round elementary schools. These sessions focused on the first two units of Investigations for each grade level.

b. August 2-3, 1999 (10 hours) Professional Development for 574 K-5 teachers that teach in traditional calendar elementary schools. These sessions focused on the first two units of Investigations for each grade level.

Middle School (6-8)
a. July 12-15, 1999 (28 hours) Professional development for 29 Middle School Teachers, including the 12 RAMP Teacher Leaders for Mathscape. This four day institute was conducted by the staff of the Mathscape Implementation Center at EDC. The institute focused on the Mathscape curriculum,with particular attention to the first units that will be implemented in Durham.

b. July 16, 1999 (7 hours) Professional development for the 12 RAMP Teacher Leaders for Mathscape. The EDC staff customized this day of professional development for the leaders with a focus on leading system-wide workshops and leading study groups.

c. August 2-3, 1999 (10 hours) Professional Development for 82 Middle School teachers. These sessions focused on the first unit of Mathscape for each grade level.

High School (9-12)
a. June 16-17 & July 20-21, 1999 (18 hours) Professional Development for 31 high school teachers who would be teaching Core Plus in 1999-2000 or who had an interest in Core Plus. These sessions were conducted by a representative from the publisher and by a teacher leader in Durham who piloted Core Plus. The focus of these sessions was understanding the overview of the Core Plus program and planning for Unit I.

b. August 2-3, 1999 (10 hours) Professional Development for 78 high school teachers. Lee Stiff was the speaker for the initial session. The focus of Lee's remarks was standards based curriculum and the need to reach all students in mathematics. Subsequent sessions focused on inquiry in Core Plus, Algebra, and Geometry and Reaching LD Students in mathematics.

Durham Public Schools is involved in a Quality Initiative with consulting provided by Phil Schletchty's Center for Leadership in School Reform. At the two day administrative retreat in July 1999, Everly Broadway and David Holdzkom, PIs for project RAMP, distributed a brief overview of project RAMP, and reminded the principals of the coming staff development for teachers. Other events for administrators took place after the 8/31/99 reporting period and will be mentioned in next year's progress report.

Community Outreach
On April 26, 1999 Durham Public School conducted a press conference to announce project RAMP to the community. David Price, our U.S. congressional representative, came to bring greetings. Additional outreach activities during this initial period included providing model letters for teachers to use in clarifying standards based curriculum materials and short "math features" at several PTA meetings. Other events for the community took place after the 8/31/99 reporting period and will be mentioned in next year's progress report.