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Realizing Achievement in Mathematics Performance Annual Report Overview

published: 11/20/2000
posted to site: 11/20/2000


Everly Broadway ; Durham Public Schools

Realizing Achievement in Mathematics Performance

Participant Individuals (Staff):

CoPrincipal Investigator(s) : David Holdzkom

Pre-college teacher(s) : Richie W O'Briant; Judith A Rucker; Pamela M Jernigan; Tery L Gunter; Patricia W Sickles; Grayling B Williams; RAMP Elementary Leaders; RAMP Middle School Leaders; RAMP High School Leaders; Miles Reck; Cynthia Bell; Elaine Dobson; Carolyn Kirkland; Retella Jones; Billie Bean; Other -- specify(s) : Karen Hall

Partner Organizations:

Education Development Center: Collaborative Research

North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics: Facilities; Collaborative Research

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Collaborative Research

Shodor Education Foundation Inc: Facilities; Collaborative Research

North Carolina Central University: Collaborative Research

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Collaborative Research

TERC Inc: Collaborative Research

Eisenhower Consortium at SERVE: Collaborative Research

Other collaborators:

Publishers of the NSF sponsored materials that we are using have

provided funds and in-kind support. These publishers are:

Scott Foresman/Addison Wesley

Creative Publications

Everyday Learning

Activities and findings:

Research and Education Activities:

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 932 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 30,000 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.

Durham Public Schools has long depended on teacher leaders as the sustainers of efforts to improve mathematics instruction. 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 mathematics educators, school-based teacher leaders, and 11 full-time and 1 half-time, district-wide Mathematics Specialists and Coaches.

Elementary schools are implementing Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. Middle Schools are implementing Mathscape. The high schools are offering an 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 grant period (9/1/99 to 8/31/00):

Elementary (K-5)

Leadership Institute

TERC conducted a 30 hour leadership institute in Durham June 2000. There were 80 participants, including all of the Elementary RAMP Leaders. (Elementary RAMP Leaders include 8 teachers on special assignment (TOSAs), 15 school-based leaders who lead district-wide workshops, and 50 school-based leaders who lead school-based study


Leadership Sessions

During the project year, Elementary leaders participated in 20 hours of professional development on leadership and mathematics in addition to the TERC institute. Susan Friel from UNC-CH conducted two leadership sessions for the Elementary RAMP Leaders. In addition, the TOSAs provided study group leader training before each study group session.

Curriculum Units

As of 8/31/00, 98% of the 721 elementary participants have participated in at least one training session. Eighty percent of the elementary participants have participated in 40 hours or more of unit workshops. The unit workshops are grade specific and oriented around one of the Investigations units. Participants are from all over the district. They are taught by TOSAs and district level teacher leaders.

Study Groups

As of 8/31/00, 98% of the elementary participants had participated in at least eight 1.5 hour to 2 hour study group sessions (12 to 16 hours). The study groups are held at each school site. Participants are from one school. The study groups are conducted by the school based elementary RAMP leaders. The materials and training for the study group leaders are provided by the TOSAs. The materials are oriented across the grade levels K-5. Materials during this year focused on pacing and assessment of Investigations.

Other Courses

During the project year, two 24 hour courses for teachers wanting to go beyond the basic unit workshops and study groups were offered. One course, Number Sense, followed a modified version of the DMI number sense materials. The other, Algebraic Thinking, followed a modified version of the materials from EDC, Fostering Algebraic Thinking. We intend to offer more of these types of courses as the professional development moves beyond the initial curriculum implementation.

Secondary (6-12)


As of 8/31/00, 92% of the secondary participants had participated in at least one professional development session. Seventy-seven percent had participated in more than 30 hours of professional development.

Curriculum Units

During the project year, most middle school participants participated in at least 4 unit workshops (24 hours). The unit workshops are grade specific and oriented around one of the Mathscape units. Participants are from all over the district. They are taught by TOSAs and district level teacher leaders.

Study Groups

During the project year, most middle school participants participated in at least eight 1.5 hour to 2 hour study group sessions (12 to 16 hours). The study groups are held at school sites. Participants are from two or three schools. Schools were grouped according to geographic location and school dismissal schedules. The study groups are conducted by the TOSAs and the school-based RAMP leaders. The materials for the study groups are provided by the TOSAs. The materials are oriented across the grade levels 6-8. Materials during this project year focused on pacing and assessment of Mathscape.

Content Courses

During the project year, a small group of middle school teachers participated in a mathematical modeling course offered by the SHODOR foundation.

High School (9-12)

Core Plus Institutes

All 28 Core Plus teachers participated in a 30 hour institute during the summer of 2000. The institutes were led in Kalamazoo, MI by Core Plus leaders and in Durham by High School RAMP leaders.

Core Plus Study Groups

All 28 Core Plus teachers participated in 24 hours of study group sessions. Teachers from all four high schools came to one location for the Core Plus Study Group. These sessions were conducted by a High School RAMP leader and one of the Secondary Math TOSAs. Materials during this year focused on content and pacing of Core Plus

Courses 1a and 1b.

Other High School Sessions

Project RAMP is seeking to offer high quality mathematics professional development to teachers of high school mathematics who are not (yet) teaching Core Plus. These teachers participated in a series of sessions entitled: Standards Based Instruction for High School Mathematics. Over the course of the 24 hours of professional development, teachers chose different modules to attend. The topics included: Focus on Algebra, What is TIMSS about anyway?, Using the TI-83 plus, and Addressing the Needs of the LD Learner in Mathematics.


Lenses on Learning mini-course

A course taught by the PI and co-PI was offered to principals and assistant principals. The course piloted the Lenses on Learning materials being developed at EDC. Seventeen administrators participated in 24 hours of instruction. Six 4-hour sessions were held over the course of the year.

Administrative Meeetings

RAMP and standards based mathematics instruction were featured at monthly principals meetings (math moments) on a regular basis.

Community Outreach

Video, Workshop, & Family Kit

During the project year, the RAMP Team, in coordination with the DPS Office of Public Affairs, produced the RAMP Video to be used for outreach to families and community members. The RAMP Video and Workshop is based on the work of the NSF-Funded FANS project in New Jersey. The video gives an image of standards-based mathematics instruction. The workshop script takes participants through standards-based mathematics lessons. All participants receive a RAMP Family Kit' which includes: The North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Mathematics, a copy of the TI booklet: Uncovering Math with Your Family, 2 flyers produced by the FANS project: What Can I do to Help My Child Achieve the Standards? And What Changes Will I See in My Child’s Classroom?, a tangram puzzle, a RAMP pencil, a RAMP puzzle, and a RAMP brochure. The intention is to present this video and workshop for at least 50 community groups during the 2000-01 school year.


A brochure describing the project is completed. Others are planned for the current project year.

RAMP Community Outreach Center

Preliminary plans to open an outreach office for RAMP at the local African-American cultural center were made during this project year. The vision is to provide extension workshops to the Video workshops mentioned above as well as to provide a place where parents can examine resources for helping their children in mathematics. The center is poised to open in December 2000.


II. Major Findings

A. Project Year (9/1/99 to 8/30/00)

•Alignment of RAMP with District and State Initiatives is Critical Deliberate alignment of RAMP with District and State Initiatives provides strength to the RAMP initiative and demonstrates the intention of RAMP to be grounded in the local context.

State Mandate: Portfolio math tasks and year end assessments in K-2 mathematics

Response of RAMP: RAMP teacher leaders designed assessment materials K-8 which asses the state objectives and blend with the pacing and focus of Investigations & Mathscape

State Mandate: New Standard Course of Study (state curriculum)

Response of RAMP:Alignment of Investigations, Mathscape, and Core Plus with the state objectives

State Mandate: New High School Pathways to Graduation

Response of RAMP:Highlight how Integrated Math (Core Plus) is an alternative high school math sequence that fits the state mandate

District Mandate: Multiple choice, quarterly benchmark tests

Response of RAMP: RAMP Teacher leaders designed benchmark tests which correspond to the pacing guides for Investigations & Mathscape

District Mandate: Math Coordinator will conduct formal observations of teachers

Response of RAMP: Math Coordinator observes Investigations, Mathscape, & Core Plus lessons


District Mandate: School Improvement Plans

Response of RAMP: RAMP Teacher leaders offered ways to list RAMP as a strategy for whole school improvement The RAMP team has used mandatory and exiting initiatives to support the implementation of standards-based curricula. When possible, the RAMP team looks for opportunities to draw explicit connections to district and state mandates.

•RAMP Professional Development as a Package Serves to Maintain Balance Designing, delivering, and advertising RAMP professional development as a package of district level workshops, school-based study groups, and in-classroom coaching emphasizes the balance needed in professional development. Teacher and administrator vision and leadership at the school level is essential; however, this leadership must be balanced by district level vision and leadership.

One example of how this played out during the project year is in the deployment of the elementary RAMP coaches during August 2000. The district-level RAMP Team defined the role of the coaches with such parameters as: a. this is prof development NOT guest teaching; b. the focus will be on Investigations at grade levels 3, 4, and 5; and c. there will be confidentiality between teacher and the coach (this is not supervision). However, the principal and RAMP leaders at the schools determined the specifics of when and with whom coaching would take place. In this way a district vision and the school-based contexts have blended.

•Preparation for New Coaches Results in a Smooth Start Preparation for adding members of the RAMP Leadership Team resulted in a smooth start for new RAMP TOSAs. During the 1999-2000 school year, the PI and the six TOSAs spent considerable time with EDC planning and refining the roles of the team members who would be added in July of 2000. In particular, we did much planning for the elementary coaches. This planning resulted in narrowing the work of the elementary coaches to grades 3 to 5 and the choice of the Content Focused Coaching model (from LRDC). Lucy West from NY District #2 came to do initial coaching training with the RAMP Leadership Team in August 2000.

•Connections to Others Outside DPS are Critical There is a depth of resources in our geographical region. We are also part of many national networks of like-minded people. We are part of a larger picture in the Durham community, in North Carolina, and in the United States. When appropriate partnerships with individuals, institutions, or projects can be made, RAMP makes those partnerships. For example, the Eisenhower Consortium at SERVE has chosen Chewning Middle School as one of six schools in the SERVE region to participate in the ENC national middle school project. During 1999-2000, the SERVE team conducted an audit on math curriculum and instruction at Chewning. SERVE will continue to work with Chewning during 2000-2001. Other partners include: the SHODOR foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina Central University, and the Durham Public Education Network. Many groups at the Education Development Center continue to be major partners, including the Developing Mathematics Ideas project, the Mathscape Implementation Center, the K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Center, the Building Regional Capacity project, and the Lenses on Learning project. The Core Plus Implementaion center has been a primary support in implementing Core Plus. The Investigations authors at TERC have been very supportive in implementing Investigations. We take advantage of the partnerships available to us.

•Attitudes are Powerful The RAMP vision is that all students are capable of learning meaningful, challenging mathematics. This vision guides our work and our discussions. This unifying vision serves as an anchor when the work gets difficult. Attitudes about who can learn and what they can learn are powerful. The RAMP Leadership Team and RAMP teacher leaders continuously initiate discussions about who is capable of learning mathematics and what mathematics they can and should learn. These discussions take place among community members, administrators, teachers, and parents. We have a profound sense of purpose and importance about the work we are doing.