Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Newsclippings and Press Releases

LSC Reference Materials

LSC Case Study Reports

Annual Report Overviews

Summer Workshop Plans

Annual Report Overviews


Austin Annual Overview

submitter: Austin Collaborative for Mathematics Education
published: 03/28/2000
posted to site: 03/31/2000
The Austin Collaborative for mathematics Education

Year 2 Progress Report

November 1999

Austin Independent School District
1111 West Sixth Street
Austin, Texas 78703

Project Overview

The Austin Collaborative for Mathematics Education (ACME), a National Science Foundation project, works as a partnership of the Austin Independent School District (AISD), the Charles A. Dana Center, and the University of Texas at Austin to provide an infrastructure and implementation plan for systemic change in mathematics curriculum and instruction. At the end of its second year, the ACME project continues to implement and support instruction modeled after NCTM Standards in all K-8 classrooms in the district. Year One was marked by raising the level of professional development provided for all K-8 mathematics teachers in the districts, with particular emphasis placed on grades 4-7. Year Two of the initiative has brought greater involvement and support from school principals, more emphasis on teacher support provided at the campus level, clearer connections between ACME sponsored professional development and the district curriculum, and an expansion of professional development activities to include all K-8 teachers.

ACME target population is the Austin Independent School District that serves 77,000 students, approximately 55,000 of whom are of elementary and middle school age. The project currently works directly with 71 elementary and 17 middle schools. The district serves a racially and ethnically diverse student population. Forty-three percent of the students are Hispanic, 37% are Anglo, 18% are African American, 2% are Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native American. Among the students, 13% have limited English proficiency and 50% qualify for free or reduced lunch through federal funds. The mathematics achievement of these diverse populations varies widely. Although in recent years the percentage of students who pass the mathematics segment of Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) has increased, African American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students consistently perform below the average for all students.

The major goal of the project is to raise mathematics achievement of all students in the district by implementing a rigorous, standards based curriculum in every school. The district recognizes the need to provide students with the understanding, reasoning, and communication skills that move mathematics beyond computation. Knowing that schools hold a key to student success, ACME provides continuous professional development in standards based curriculum and instruction for teachers and administrators. As educators develop their knowledge and skills as mathematics instructors, ACME also seeks to build a community of learners among school faculty that ensures continuous professional growth beyond the initiative.

Specific activities of ACME include:

  • In depth, multi-year teacher professional development in content, pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment.
  • Coordinated acquisition and distribution of standards based resource materials.
  • Use of pilot schools to test and refine all materials, professional development, and campus support intended for whole district dissemination.
  • School leadership development for school and district administrators.
  • Resource and program support for parent outreach and parent involvement.
  • Development of on-going support (both on-site campus support for teachers and district policy changes and resource purchases that support implementation efforts).

Through ACME, every K-8 mathematics teacher in the district participates in a minimum of 120 hours of formal professional development. The intent of professional development is to (1) build sound and proven practice in mathematics instruction, (2) ensure consistent implementation of quality mathematics curriculum and, (3) provide on-going support for teachers and administrators to implement standards based curriculum and instruction.

ACME professional development was designed to address the specific needs of Austin ISD while ensuring quality implementation of state and national mathematics standards. Although individual sessions are modified according to the needs of participants, the typical ACME professional development sequence consists of five professional development phases with major components of standards based curriculum and instruction addressed in each phase.

  Major Components
Phase 1

Year 1 Initial Summer Institute

(5-10 days):

Building a case for standards based instruction; mathematics standards in relation to district and state accountability; building mathematical understanding; implementing effective instructional strategies; managing implementation of standards based curriculum; implementing standards based resources (e.g., Investigations and Connected Mathematics); developing practical approaches to engage parents in the mathematics curriculum; addressing common concerns of parents.
Phase 2

Year 1 Follow Up

(5 days)

Mathematics through inquiry-based instruction; assessing student learning; integrating state and district required assessments into the curriculum; modifying instruction for students with special needs; modeling standards based curriculum activities; sharing of instructional strategies.
Phase 3

Year 2 Summer Institute

(3-5 days)

Continuing to develop teachers' understanding of essential mathematics content; refining teacher skills in implementing standards based instruction; learning to foster mathematical discussions among students; questioning strategies to develop understanding; modifying instruction to meet the specific needs of a variety of learners.
Phase 4

Year 2 Follow Up

(4 days)

Developing individual school plans for teacher support and on-site professional development; continuing development of mathematical content knowledge; continuing to learn from other participants' successful strategies in implementing standards based instruction; modeling collegial coaching and study groups.
Phase 5

Peer Coaching and On-site Collegial Support

Opportunities for teachers to continue to participate in district-wide professional development beyond the ACME regular sequence includes peer coaching, book study groups, and specific units of study within a content strand. Additionally, administrators and teachers from individual campuses design opportunities for teachers to continue to develop effective instructional strategies for mathematics and learn from one another's experiences (e.g., team sharing/planning and peer observations)

The sequence of professional development enhances teachers’ knowledge of content, pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, and develops a community of learners that understand and support implementation of national education standards.

The ACME project began in the fall of 1997 with professional development training for 5th and 6th grade teachers. Fourth and 7th grade teachers were added to the project in the summer of 1998. Summer Institutes for all second, third, and eighth grade teachers began in 1999. Because of a 1999 district adoption of standards based curriculum resources, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, kindergarten and first grade teachers were given the option of joining ACME in the fall of 1999 rather than waiting until the summer of 2000 to begin their sequence of professional development. Well over half of kindergarten and first grade teachers opted to begin with the fall training.

In support of the professional development model, ACME also provides a comprehensive approach to district mathematics reform through planned activities for district administrators, campus principals, teacher leaders, curriculum specialists, and parents/ community members. As a district initiative, ACME is developing a broad base of advocates and active supporters of reform in school mathematics.