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Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Merging to Achieve Standards Project (MASP2) Annual Report Overview

published: 11/27/2000
posted to site: 11/27/2000
Section 2 - 1 Activities and Findings

Section 2 - 1 Activities and Findings

Annual Overview

(MASP)2 (Minneapolis and St. Paul Merging to Achieve Standards Project) involves 21 school districts in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. The original grant was to provide professional development services to 500 middle grades and high school teachers in these participating districts. These services were designed to assist districts with the implementation of new NSF funded curricula by providing ongoing instruction and support to the teachers and administrators involved. As a condition of participation, each participating district agreed to adopt one or more of the new NSF funded curricula. Participating districts adopted either STEM, CMP or Mathscape at the middle grades level, and/or IMP, Core+ or ARISE at the high school level. Most districts adopted one in each category. In addition, districts agreed to the NSF mandate that requires each district to provide a $2000 in-kind contribution for each teacher involved in the project.

Response to the project was far greater than originally anticipated. A successful supplementary proposal to NSF provided additional funding to increase the number of affected teachers (each to be provided the standard 130 hours of professional development) to 900 teachers. As of August, 2000, 842 teachers have completed at least 80 hours of professional development.

Currently in the fourth year of the four-year project, we have thus far involved over 900 teachers in one of over 45 two-week summer programs (each 80 hours in length). Each of these programs focused especially on one of the six supported NSF curricula, although each also focused on related mathematical content and pedagogy. Each teacher was subsequently provided with a project supported mentor. These teacher-mentors provided an additional 20 hours of on-site professional development, support and encouragement. In addition, ongoing academic year staff development activities (30 or more hours) were provided for each of the six curricula. Teachers were thus able to complete the 130-hour requirement by attending the two-week intensive summer program, then actively participating in the 20-hour mentor program and finally attending the ongoing academic year staff development activities.

Teachers completing the 130 hours of staff development are awarded 6 quarter or 4 semester graduate credits in mathematics education at the University of Minnesota at no cost to them. To date 462 teachers have completed at least 130 hours of staff development. Of these, 245 have completed all paper work and have received the 4 semester graduate credits. Fifty teachers are within 10 hours of completion. Over 1100 teachers and administrators have participated in some portion of the program. Summer, 2000, marked the last summer of initial training in this project.

The (MASP)2 budget does not provide for continued staff development beyond the first year and the completion of the 130-hour minimum requirement. But we found that teachers do need additional support after completing their first year of involvement. . We have used four Higher Ed Eisenhower grants that funded an additional 40 hours of staff development for year 2, 3 and 4 teachers in the various curricula. One hundred fifty-five teachers participated in eight Eisenhower funded 4-day sessions during the summer of 2000. Two additional days of Eisenhower funded staff development will be provided for each of the six curricula during the 2000-2001 academic year. We have just submitted two additional Higher Ed Eisenhower proposals (middle grades and secondary) which, if funded, would provide similar services for teachers during the 2001-2002 academic year.

In 1998-99 we had documented over 42,000 students in our 21 member districts who were being exposed to new NSF curricula each and every day as a direct result of the efforts of this project. In 2000-2001 we estimate that this number to be near 100,000 students. This is very gratifying to us!

Success to date can be attributed, at least in part, to the State of Minnesota’s newly adopted statewide graduation standards, known as the Profile of Learning. This state law outlined a series of outcomes for students in mathematics and other areas. The mathematical outcomes contained in the Profile are perfectly matched to the NCTM Standards and to the NSF integrated curricula. The Profile prescribes levels of student competencies in algebra, geometry, probability, statistics and topics in discrete mathematics. Moreover, cooperative approaches and group work were suggested in all discipline areas. Competency had to be demonstrated through performance assessments. This was another nice fit to the NSF curricula. School districts unaware as to how to deal with these new state regulations turned to the (MASP)2 project for assistance. It is not possible to overestimate the motivation which the Profile of Learning in mathematics has supplied for school districts to become involved in substantive mathematics curriculum reform. Other subject areas are not as well defined, in terms of curriculum development, as we are in mathematics and are therefore not as far along in the renewal process. During the 2000 legislative session, the State Legislature rejected a proposal to eliminate the Profile of Learning in favor of a more traditional set of skills. Project staff collaborated with various partners to provide legislators with information to counter efforts by opponents of math reform to overturn the Profile of Learning.

Not all members of the parental community are enthusiastic about the Profile of Learning and the adoption of NSF funded curricula. Some are not supportive of our efforts. At present parental outbursts seem to have subsided somewhat, perhaps because the new curricula are becoming institutionalized and students seems to be profiting from them. The backlash issue is not dead however. We will continue to deal with this as the need arises.

A number of individual investigations are underway in some of our districts to assess the impact of these new curricula on student mathematics achievement. Teachers by and large are quite enthusiastic about there own and their students' reaction to the NSF funded materials. This is most encouraging and we will do what we can to have this continue. We are convinced that these materials represent a quantum leap in the right direction both mathematically and pedagogically. Further, they seem to be the best chance for underrepresented groups to participate in the learning of substantive mathematics.

(MASP)2 received an extension that is designed to collect student performance data from a selected subset of districts. Seven districts are involved in this data collection. The project is generally using the Stanford 9, multiple choice and open-ended and in some cases the New Standards open-ended questions for this assessment. Two models are involved. One is a value-added model in which the same children are tested at the beginning of year 2 of a particular curriculum, the end of year 2 and the end of year 3. The project will look at the gain in score for each such student. This will tend to eliminate outside factors and focus on the mathematics learned. In this model, each student becomes their own control. The second model is a snapshot of classes of students compared to national norms. These tests will be conducted at the end of year three of a particular curriculum.


Section 3 Publications and Products

The (MASP)2 Project is well known and we think well regarded in the mathematics education community and in the general school communities in the immediate region. We have had many inquiries from non-participating districts both in the region and in rural Minnesota. At this point we are able to provide direct services only for our 21 participating districts and one out state district which is buying services.

The PI’s have made several presentations at the State mathematics meetings (Spring and Fall 1999, 2000) including bringing persons from other locales who have similar interests, experiences and responsibilities. We have also participated in project related conferences (CMP, Core+, IMP, and ARISE) at the national level in order to deepen our understanding of these curricula. We began a web page but it has suffered from neglect and is not something that we are very proud of. Perhaps when things quiet down a bit we will again devote the needed time to this project.

The project has also consulted with several other metropolitan and rural school districts and has helped shape programs for the future in these districts. Examples include Bloomington, Fridley, Rochester, Anoka, Salina,KS and the Zumbro Ed District consortium. (MASP)2 was a key component in the readiness of Minneapolis Public Schools to apply for and receive an Urban Systemic Program grant. (MASP)2 PI's will continue to work with Minneapolis administrators as a part of that grant.



Section 4 - Contributions

While we have no formal publications to report, we have deeply affected 21 school districts, 110 individual school buildings, over 1100 teachers and administrators, and nearly 100,000 students. The quality of the mathematics programs and the experiences of students in these districts will be forever changed as a result of this project.

We have observed several districts that have had key personnel leave. The mathematics reforms have been sufficiently institutionalized by the district that new personnel came on board with no change in direction. Examples include a new curriculum director in Wayzata, a new curriculum director in Roseville, a new curriculum director in Shakopee, a new superintendent in Roseville, a new math coordinator in Hopkins, a new curriculum director in Richfield, a new assistant superintendent in St Paul, and a new assistant superintendent in Chaska.


Section 5 - Special Requirements

The (MASP)2 project has expanded from its original design to include student assessment with the latest extension. This has changed the ending date of the project to September 1, 2002. We will submit our final project report (sans student achievement results using the Stanford 9 and the New Standards test) on November 15, 2001. Student achievement results