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


Major Activities - (MS)2 Project

published: 12/07/2001
posted to site: 12/07/2001

Major Activities - (MS)2 Project

The Middle-School Math-Standards Project, (MS)2, is a local systemic change teacher-enhancement project of New Visions for Public Schools in collaboration with the New York City Board of Education and the City College of New York. (MS)2 supports systemic reform of mathematics teaching, learning, and performance assessment in thirty-five middle schools, in conjunction with the New York City Board of Education's adoption of the New Standards in mathematics. The overarching goal of the (MS)2 project is to change the way in which New York City teachers teach mathematics, in order to significantly improve the mathematics learning experience for all middle school students.

Four of New York City's most disadvantaged community school districts participate in (MS)2 : CSD #5 in Central Harlem, CSD #9 in the South Bronx, CSD #13 in Bedford Stuyvesant, and CSD #19 in East New York. An important focus for the (MS)2 project is teachers' collaborative learning, and the centerpiece of the project is the generation and support of biweekly, school-based mathematics study groups, led by specially trained teacher leaders. All teachers receive stipends and/or release time for their participation in the study groups.

During the project's first year, 47 teacher-led, school-based study groups were created among the majority of project schools. School-based study groups are the (MS)2 vehicle for reaching every mathematics teacher in the four participating districts. Teacher leaders received intensive training to organize and facilitate study groups during the school year. (MS)2 teacher leaders were prepared and consistently supported through on-going professional development offered during the annual Summer Institute and monthly teacher leader seminars held during the school year. Four content strands were covered during each professional development session: mathematics content, mathematics pedagogy, mathematics standards and leadership. School-based mathematics study groups concentrated on three areas: mathematics content, implementation of exemplary mathematics curriculum, and student work. The work of each study group was reinforced by district-level coordinators who maintained consistency across the study groups, and visiting mathematics specialists with expertise in exemplary middle school curricula and instructional practice.

During the first year of the project, study groups focused on providing opportunities for teachers to experience mathematics in a non-traditional manner. Often, study groups would work on interesting mathematics problems to help teachers shift from a teacher-directed style to one in which meaningful questions encourage student exploration and problem-solving, as well as haring of solutions and understandings. This year, the project encompassed 54 study groups. In an effort to help teachers become more familiar with the exemplary instructional materials and work toward expertise in teaching with them, sessions focused more on curriculum implementation. Study groups also dealt with increasing student understanding of mathematics. Teacher leaders used a protocol during student group sessions to help teachers assess the level at which students understand the mathematics and to build on that understanding.

The project continued to work closely with school leaders during year two, conducting a meeting with approximately 65 assistant principals that focused on curriculum implementation and classroom observations. As in year one, project schools with active support from school principals had higher rates of study group attendance.

In addition to the five-day annual Summer Institute, the project continued to offer mathematics content courses at City College: Course 1 - Number Sense & Operation; Course 2 - Patterns, Functions & Algebra. The first content course was re-tooled to include an on-line component, and the second course was introduced. Teachers received three graduate credits in mathematics for completing each course.

The mathematics content courses were developed in response to the need for teacher leaders and teachers in the program to increase their knowledge and understanding of mathematics. The courses are open to any teacher in the program and corresponds to the middle school mathematics strand identified in the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. The courses provide a rigorous examination of mathematics content in a standards-based environment, emphasizing problem-solving, mathematical reasoning, communication, connections and representations. New Visions expects to continue offering instructional, content-based mathematics courses throughout the project.