Pittsburgh Reform in Mathematics Education (PRIME)
PI Annual Progress Report
June 1, 1998 -- June 30, 1999
Part I. Annual Overview
The Pittsburgh Reform in Mathematics Education (PRIME) project is part of Pittsburgh Public Schools' broad systemic initiative to implement standards-based instruction. PRIME supports teachers in the classroom implementation of standards-based mathematics instruction and assessment through the use of exemplary instructional materials. In addition, PRIME promotes the attainment of the broad knowledge base in both mathematics content and successful mathematics pedagogy that teachers need in order to understand and implement the new materials successfully.
To accomplish this, PRIME provides all Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers of mathematics with a range of activities that include
- Multi-day summer workshops that introduce new materials and provide instruction in the mathematics that teachers need to use them effectively;
- Professional development workshops during the school year, focusing initially on the upcoming units of study, later addressing more subtle issues of classroom implementation and sound instructional practice; and
- Individualized, in-class support provided by demonstration teachers and/or mathematics lead teachers within each school building to afford on-site modeling and immediate feedback on classroom implementation and tudent performance.
Significance and Impact of PRIME: Over the four-year proposed timeline, PRIME will have system-wide impact on all teachers of mathematics in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. That is, the approximately 1,000 mathematics teachers K-12 will have (1) an in-depth understanding of the mathematics involved in teaching specific grade levels; (2) the pedagogy and tools necessary to create and orchestrate a student-centered mathematics classroom; (3) cutting-edge, standard-based mathematics curricular materials that will positively impact student achievement; and (4) the skills necessary to integrate the use of alternative assessment into their classroom practice.
While PRIME's initial focus is on implementation of the materials, its follow-up workshops address specific issues (i.e., student-teacher discourse, alternative assessment), and its subsequent in-class support focuses on refining the instructional model, the participants' teaching skills, and their understanding of the exemlplary materials' nuances.
PRIME will have broad impact on both teachers and students. That is, by equipping all teachers with the knowledge, skills and support necessary for effectively using exemplary materials, PRIME will ensure that all students experience a coherent mathematics program that will yield higher achievement at all levels.
- PRIME supported the implementation of K-5 Everyday Mathematics (EM), 6-8 Connected Mathematics (CMP), and College Preparatory Mathematics -- Course 1 Algebra (CPM) (for grade 8 Algebra 1) with professional development sessions and in-class observation and demonstration lessons. (See Appendix A for a list of workshops.)
- PRIME personnel facilitated numerous parent sessions regarding EM, CMP, CPM and alternative forms ofassessment, including the New Standards Mathematics Reference Examination (NSMRE).
- PRIME extended its work to high school, with professional development regarding the district's new Algebra 1 textbook and the NSMRE. A district-wide algebra 1 final examination (Algebra Core Examination -- ACE) was used for the first time. The purpose of this exam is to standardize expectations across the district and clearly communicate the need for students to acquire conceptual understanding and problem solving capabilities in addition to symbol manipulation skills.
- PRIME is beginning to obtain evidence that NSF mathematics curricula have strong, positive effects on student achievement. A district study of the first cohort of students who had the opportunity to experience K-4 EM (EM) indicated that schools with strong implementation of EM had significantly better performance on the Grade 4 NSMRE than schools with weak implementation. There were statistically significant differences between strong and weak implementation schools in terms of percentage of students meeting the overall standard (63% vs. 15%), and percentage of students meeting the skills (78% vs. 37%), concepts (54% vs. 8%), and problem solving (40% vs. 8%) standards. Appendix B contains a copy of the study.
This study will be repeated with 1999 grade 4 NSMRE data as soon as it is available. Two similar additional studies are also planned using 1999 data. One will examine the grade 5 PA Assessment performance of the first cohort of students who had the opportunity to experience K-5 EM (EM); the other, the grade 8 NSMRE performance of the first cohort of students who had the opportunity to experience 6-8 CMP.
- Pittsburgh mathematics reform efforts received positive coverage from the two major local newspapers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and an editorial about the success of EM. Copies of these articles are in Appendix C. One of the articles describes the role of the PRIME demonstration teachers and referred to the PRIME NSF grant.
- PRIME demonstration teachers continue to be recognized by both teachers and principals as effective, helpful professionals.
- PRIME is recognized as an effective professional development model by teachers, principals and central office personnel and is being replicated in other content areas. In particular, the use of demonstration teachers to provide classroom-based professional development has been copied by others. During 1998-99, the district obtained funding for demonstration teachers in scienc,e communications (reading, English language arts), and social studies, so that in-class, professional development could occur in these areas as well. PRIME demonstration teachers met with the new demonstration teachers about the role and strategies for success.
- Pittsburgh Public Schools (PP) continued to move towards a standards-based assessment system. During 1998-99, PPS eliminated use of national norm-referenced tests (the ITBS) at grades for which another assessment is administered (i.e., the NSMRE or PA Assessment). PPS also began work with the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS), directed by Dr. Sandra Wilcox, Michigan State University, to develop stnadards-based assessments for grades 3, 6, and 9, the grades in which we do not administer either the NSMRE or the PA Assessment. The intent is to develop "NSMRE clones," which would provide information about the extent to which students are making adequate progress towards attaining the standard at the benchmark grades (4, 8 and high school). Appendix D shows the changes in the PPS Assessment System from 1999 through 2000.