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Newsclippings and Press Releases


Math Reform Surges in the Philadelphia Region

published: 09/21/2001
posted to site: 09/21/2001


PHILADELPHIA - A powerful wave of mathematics reform is sweeping across the Philadelphia region. The number of schools participating in reform has grown dramatically over the past three years. Over a hundred schools in twenty-three area school districts are responding to the national call to dramatically improve mathematics curricula and instruction in order to prepare students for the complex, technology-rich world of the 21st century.

Improving mathematics teaching and learning requires substantial teacher professional development accompanied by technical assistance to administrators. Over 1,000 mathematics teachers in the Philadelphia region are presently engaged in an intensive, multi-year program of professional development involving 20 to 40 days of training.

In conjunction with this extraordinary level of professional development, participating schools and districts have adopted new Standards-based curricular materials, including many that have been nationally recognized as exemplary programs by the U.S. Department of Education and by the American Association for the Advancement of Science .

This two-pronged reform strategy is supported by the Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project (GPSMP) at La Salle University, a 5-year project supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation that began in 1998. With a staff of nearly 100 instructors and mentors, the GPSMP is currently the largest provider of mathematics professional development and technical assistance in the Philadelphia area utilizing nationally validated Standards-based curricula.

Through a portfolio of eighteen new courses at La Salle University, the GPSMP provides up to 240 hours of professional development per teacher, in-classroom mentoring for teachers, and on-going consultations with administrators over a four to five year period regarding the change process. Cumulatively, the number of professional development hours provided by the GPSMP currently exceeds 50,000.

"A great deal of credit for the growth of the mathematics reform movement in the Philadelphia region goes to those school board members, administrators and teacher leaders who have recognized the need to fundamentally change business-as-usual practices in mathematics classrooms. They have committed themselves and their resources to press ahead with an intensive, sustained, and multi-year effort to improve their students' understanding of and achievement in mathematics in line with the national recommendations for change," according to F. Joseph Merlino, GPSMP Projector Director.

Last year, Strath Haven High School in the Wallingford/Swarthmore school district was the first suburban high school to have all of its juniors enrolled in Standards-based curriculum for six years beginning in middle school after its teachers spent years engaged in professional development. As a result, Strath Haven High School scored a record 1500 on their Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in April 2000. The score made Strath Haven the top performing comprehensive high school in Pennsylvania out of over 600 high schools.

For more information contact:

F. Joseph Merlino
Project Director
The Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project
La Salle University
Philadelphia, Pa 19141