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Annual Report Overviews


Minneapolis and St Paul Area Merging to Achieve Standards Project (MASP)2 Annual Overview

published: 12/14/2001
posted to site: 12/14/2001

Minneapolis and St Paul Area Merging to Achieve Standards Project (MASP)2
NSF Award Number 9618741
Final Report December 2001

Project Activities and Findings:

Project History:

A collection of twenty-four greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area school districts, acting in a comprehensive collaboration, envisioned that by the year 2002 over 900 teachers, representing a large portion of their grade 7-12 mathematics teachers, would be teaching a Standards Based Curriculum (SBC) to a diverse collection of students in their respective schools. This would create a critical mass and an infrastructure for the growing of a systemic implementation of Standards Based Curricula in all schools by all teachers in the Greater Minneapolis-St.Paul area and beyond. We have worked hard to develop capacity to serve our partner districts as well as provide leadership for several other districts. An additional 24 districts exist in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area with similar needs. Another 150 districts exist in Minnesota outside of the metropolitan area. Many of these districts have requested help from our project. We were not able to accommodate those requests.

Principal Investigator, Thomas R. Post, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Minnesota is the PI of record. The two Co-PIs are Dr. Edwin Andersen, Director of NSF's Open Access Project and Co-Director of the Minneapolis Interactive Mathematics Program site and a retired Minneapolis mathematics teacher, and Arnie Cutler, a retired secondary mathematics teacher and a K-12 Education Coordinator at the University Geometry Center, another NSF funded project to the mathematics department at the University of Minnesota.

The project operationally defined "implementing a Standards Based Curriculum" as implementing one of the new NSF middle or high school curriculum projects, which have direct and verifiable linkages to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum & Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics and, Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics and other supporting documents.

One major goal was to directly assist our partner districts in the selection and implementation of curriculum materials sponsored by the NSF and to help prepare their teachers to successfully teach these curricula. Another major goal was to develop, implement and refine a replicable model for large-scale implementations of reformed curricula. The effectiveness of the model, which evolved, is based on long-term, purposeful and planned professional development for each 7-12 mathematics teacher in both mathematical content and mathematical pedagogy. To date over 1100 teachers have been involved with MASP2. . We expect that 750+ teachers will, by the fall of 2002, complete the 130 hours as mandated by NSF. As of this writing an additional 179 teachers have 65-100 hours and 197 beyond that hat have 40-64 hours of professional development. We also document that 84,000+ children are daily exposed to standards based NSF curricula as a direct result of this project. Details will be provided by each district is another section of this final report.

Current Project Accomplishments:

Over the course of the project (1997 to present) a series of summer and academic year workshops were provided for the teachers in our 21 cooperating districts. High School workshops were held introducing the Interactive Mathematics Project (IMP), CORE+, and ARISE. Middle school workshops were held introducing Six Through Eight Mathematics (STEM), MathScape, and the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP). Project PI's routinely presented information on NSF Curricula and Standards Based Instruction to parent groups, curriculum committees, school boards, teachers, and other decision making or influential groups within the area. Each such presentation normally included the teaching of some lesson from one of the NSF Curricula.

In 2001 the State of Minnesota has implemented a graduation standard based on the demonstrated student performance in the various disciplines. The mathematics component of the Minnesota State Standards requires demonstrated performance in:

  1. Algebraic Patterns or Technical Applications
  2. Shape, Space and Measurement, and
  3. Discrete Mathematics
  4. Chance and Data Analysis

The NSF curricula presented a perfect fit for these state standards and many districts made the decision to adopt one of the NSF curricula for all of their students. It was determined that all four standards could be satisfied if a student successfully completed three years of any of the NSF secondary curricula, while it was determined that 3 1/2 to 4 years would be required for students in a traditional text. This was true because traditional mathematics textbook curricula did not contain probability, statistics or discrete mathematics at the levels required by the graduation standards. In retrospect this was probably the single most important event, which caused our 21 districts to eagerly participate in the MASP2 grant. Specific district data including curricular designation, number of teachers affected, and the number of students in reformed classrooms, along with quotes from district personnel regarding the efficacy of MASP2 and comments about the current state of reform in their districts is contained in the individual district fact sheets provided in this report.

Districts participating in this project have made strong efforts to assist their teachers in making district-wide and/or building-wide commitments to the implementation of NSF Curricula. All twenty-one of our partner districts adopted NSF Curricula as either the only choice or one of two choices in their district, the second choice being a commercial text series. Some districts adopted both middle and secondary NSF curricula, while others adopted only at one of these levels. Several districts provided stipends and/or release time above and beyond the MASP2 funds. This NSF grant assembled an attractive package of incentives, including six tuition free graduate quarter credits from the University of Minnesota, mentoring opportunities and most recently cost free assessment of student mathematical achievement as measured by the Stanford 9 or the New Standards Tests. This assessment was accomplished only in 7 selected districts as part of our NSF supplemental grant to assess student achievement on widely accepted traditional standardized achievement tests. All of this was done to encourage districts to move toward full implementation of NSF Curricula. The initial results of the student achievement testing are in but have not been fully analyzed and are not a part of this final report, except for the short overview provided in the next paragraph.

Our initial impression of the standardized test results (about 2500 students) is that students in reformed curricula are doing "just fine". It is also apparent that in several districts all of the student body is taking three years of high school mathematics, a dramatic increase, and worthy of note. In several of the classrooms of one of the seven districts, the students' overall composite scores were above the national mean even though the class contained many special education students and none of the "high ability" students that were in a different class. The high ability students in separate sections had composite percentile ranks in the high nineties. A more systematic analysis is currently underway and will tease out other areas of interest and/or concern.


The Minneapolis-St. Paul area is a seven-county metropolitan area whose total population is approximately 2.8 million. There are 48 separate school districts in the area with Minneapolis being the largest. As an example of the demographics of the area, the school-age minority population in Minneapolis, identified as African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Hispanic American has increased from 35% in 1983 to the present level of 62%. By 1998, census data projections indicated that 70% of Minneapolis students are from populations of color. Seventy different languages and cultures are represented in Minneapolis schools today and seven language groups are served in bilingual programs where content is taught in the native language.

A report from the Metropolitan Council indicates that the Minneapolis - St. Paul metropolitan area has the highest minority poverty rate of any of the 25 core cities in the most populous metropolitan areas in the country. It is three times the rate of Los Angeles and San Diego and more than double the poverty rate for nonwhites in New York, Denver, and Washington, D.C.

High dropout and turnover rates create dramatic challenges for the urban schools in the area. A hope for greater student success in the schools lies in the implementation of curricula, which engage and challenge all students regardless of cultural or societal backgrounds. Current significant social and economic barriers for students in the metro area and the potential to create an environment which engages disenfranchised students is a very important reason for implementing a Standards Based Curriculum. As an engine for creating a workforce with significant mathematical background, the implementation of Standards Based Curricula in area schools is urgent and important for the national as well as the local economy.

The systemic implementation of Standard Based Curricula in the Greater Minneapolis - St. Paul area was accomplished by a multilevel collaboration of financial support and local leadership and various forms of infrastructure support.

Coordinated Systems of Support:

All districts contributed significant " textbook adoption" resources to the successful implementation of reformed based NSF curricula in their respective districts. Below are a few of the ways in which districts and other agencies provided other needed resources.

  1. Coordinated use of district graduation standards implementation funds (provided by the State), local district Eisenhower and Title I funds, and state higher education Eisenhower funds generated by the MASP2 Project.
  2. Textbook purchase and staff development monies from local school districts. In the first two years of the project we had documented almost two million dollars of in-kind district contributions.
  3. Contributions from SciMathMN, Minnesota's version of a State Systemic Initiative.
  4. Funding from NSF

Here are some of the details surrounding these areas of support.

  1. Minnesota, under recently passed legislation, is implementing a Graduation Rule which is based on student performance rather than time on task or seat time. The mathematics component of the Graduation Rule reflects the NCTM Standards and is described above. This Graduation Rule has caused teachers and districts to identify necessary changes in content, pedagogy, and assessment to document successful performance for all Minnesota students. This factor has provided tremendous impetus for the selection of NSF Curricula since performance assessment is built into each of these new curricula.
  2. A K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Framework developed by SciMathMN in collaboration with the state's mathematics teachers and educators, recently completed, bridges the Graduation Rule and the NCTM Standards with clear and concise statements about what Minnesota students should know and be able to do. The dissemination of this document has assisted teachers to see the direct alignment of the Rule, the Standards and NSF Curricula. This has assisted many teachers make a decision to select and implement an NSF Curriculum.

    SciMathMN, a state and privately funded 501C3 organization, is the Minnesota version of a State Systemic Initiative. Its mission is the implementation of the NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards, the NCTM Teaching Standards and NRC Science Standards in Minnesota. Currently in its fourth year of funding from the State of Minnesota, SciMathMN will support the development of materials to use in the summer workshops, public relations materials and Internet training/access to project participants. This will establish an electronic communication network to permit efficient communication among participants, mentor/coaches and project leadership as well as the capacity to utilize Internet materials.

    SciMathMN has worked with a focus group of parents to develop a promotional brochure for communities to use to introduce parents to the Integrated Curriculum structure inherent in NSF Curricula. Focusing on rigor, relevance, and reward, the brochure has assisted many parents and students to choose NSF curricula in those districts, which offered a choice between NSF and traditional curricula. An example is the White Bear Lake school district, which recently enrolled 700 ninth graders for next year, 670 of which chose the NSF Core+ Curricula and 30 chose the traditional sequence.

  3. The State of Minnesota has implemented a Best Practices Network, which is providing a cadre of K-12 mathematics teachers with a background of Best Practices knowledge. These teachers have the beginning of a set of understandings and experiences, which are necessary for larger dissemination of NSF Curricula throughout the state. Additional funding will be sought from a variety of sources to utilize this beginning to expand the (MASP)2 model to the rest of the state. Almost all of the schoolteachers in the (MASP)2 instructional team are members of the best practice network.
  4. The Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics has structured its professional development efforts to support the implementation of NSF Curricula.
  5. MASP2 obtained 6 Eisenhower grants (two others are currently pending) to supplement existing funds and to provide professional development sessions for 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th year reformed teachers.
  6. Despite these multiple sources of support, funding from NSF was the major source of financial and other assistance and was essential to every aspect of this project.

Professional Development Model:

An infrastructure now exists to support implementation of NSF Curricula including the professional development model, the training and effective use of mentor teachers, and the establishment of a system of stipends, credits and other incentives to encourage teachers to participate. We will continue to harness the energy and enthusiasm of a large cadre of experienced and talented teachers and other professionals who are seeking to create mathematical learning environments appropriate for all students in our state. The project expended a significant amount of money to hire school based mentor teachers during the first three years. In retrospect it is felt that this aspect of the project, although costly, and complex to orchestrate, provided a level of support for new teachers, which would not have been available any other way. There were difficulties encountered due to conflicting teaching loads of the mentors, scheduling problems with mentees, geographic dispersion of schools and a handful of unwilling mentee teachers. In spite of these shortcomings it is felt that this was a necessary component to the success of this project.

The first component of the professional development model was the summer workshop. We organized teachers into cadres of approximately 20 teachers who have all selected the same NSF curriculum. Each workshop focuses on mathematical content and pedagogical/curriculum graduation standards.

Our experience (Rational Number Project - 1994-present - NSF-ESI-9454371) supports the idea that teachers will learn mathematics best if they are engaged in ways that model effective teaching. Hence our presenters were strongly encouraged to model such teaching in the summer program. The desired pedagogical knowledge base guides our development of the mathematical component of the teacher enhancement materials. Teachers in the program learned mathematics through: (a) active involvement with others including flexible grouping strategies (social, cooperative, ability, interest, etc.), (b) the use of multiple representations and translations within and among these various representations (Lesh, 1977) to depict and explore mathematical concepts, and (c) a focus on problem-centered situations involving problem solving, reasoning, communication, and the making of connections within and between topical domains. Of course a significant amount of time was also spent on teacher exploration of the actual curricula materials.

Our goal was to influence teachers' views of mathematics in a way so as to be more compatible with contemporary perspectives. The mathematical experiences must also deepen teachers' mathematics knowledge. This specific content knowledge should be rich in concepts, principles, procedures, and connections both within the topic and among other topics.

The middle school portion of this project recognized that a significant percentage of the teachers teaching middle school level mathematics in 5-8 schools will in fact have elementary licensure and therefore are unlikely to have a strong content background in mathematics. This necessitated a program quite different than that developed for the high school teacher of mathematics with secondary certification and the concomitant relatively strong background in the discipline. The program for the middle grades teacher therefore stressed mathematical content with a strong but secondary emphasis on the psychological and pedagogical aspects of instruction and learning. For the remaining middle grade teachers with secondary certification and relatively strong backgrounds in mathematics, arrangements were made to differentiate instruction and programmatic emphasis. It must be noted that the strength of teachers' content background differed widely usually as a function of the institution from which it was obtained and the recency and relevance of the mathematics coursework. The same can be said for the methodological component.

Our experience in this and other projects suggests that having these two populations of teachers in the same program has not been a problem of the magnitude originally anticipated. The two groups can work well together, each relating to their own strengths and supporting one another as they strive to improve their own competency in the middle grades mathematics classroom. (NSF Rational Number Project-Middle Grades Teacher Enhancement Project T. Post - PI) Our overall goal was to help teachers develop an integrated knowledge base consisting of the three major components listed above. We tried to accomplish this by developing program components along the lines of those suggested by the Minnesota Graduation Standards - algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, discrete mathematics and a strong number component focusing especially on the ordered field of rational numbers and proportionality. This mathematical content instruction was buttressed by its application in an NSF Curriculum. Indeed, the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), the Six Through Eight Mathematics Project (STEM, and MathScape all contain significant mathematics not traditionally contained in the middle grades curriculum. STEM for example, in its six through eighth grade curriculum contains 95% of the topics mentioned in the Texas standards for its ninth grade algebra curriculum, falling short only in its treatment of the quadratic formula and factoring of trinomials. (Correspondence with Rick Billstein STEM PI) CMP and MIC can make similar claims, although the treatment of the various topics is in each case more problem oriented and less procedurally based than in the traditional treatment found in current text materials. The challenges posed for the traditionally trained teacher were formidable. They include not only mathematical but also pedagogical and psychological hurdles, which must be overcome if such programs are to be successfully implemented.

A goal of this project was to develop a clearer picture of what mathematics teachers need to know to effectively teach specific topics in mathematics. We seem to know as much about what it should not be as we do about what it should be. It should not be knowledge based on rote memorization of rules. It should not be knowledge of procedures without understanding why and how and under what circumstances those procedures are appropriate. It should not be a view of mathematics as consisting of a series of rules to be applied in predetermined circumstances, and it should not be a view of mathematics as a subject suitable only for the intellectually elite. We attempted to initiate a program of professional development based in part on these beliefs.


Teachers and most administrators in our member districts have made a considerable commitment to implementing NSF standards based curricula in their districts. Our original funded proposal from the NSF was for 500 teachers. However, the enrollment of teachers and the rate of adoption of NSF curricula in our area exceeded the expectations of all concerned. We had a "teacher-in-waiting" list of over 400 and had essentially expended all of grant funds. As a result, the MASP2 project applied for and received an extension and supplementary budget to enable us to work with an additional 400 teachers. The MASP2 project ultimately involved over 1131 teachers in some capacity. The majority (653) has completed the 130-hour NSF requirement. One hundred and twenty-two additional teachers have, as of this writing, completed between 100 and 129 hours. We expect the large majority of those to complete 130 hours by fall of 2001. Additionally, one hundred seventy-nine teachers have 65-100 hours and 197 teachers have completed 40-64 hours. The latter two categories are unlikely to complete the 130-hour requirement but have never the less undergone significant levels of professional development thru this project.

Later we were granted a second supplement to assess student's achievement, on standardized achievement tests, for approximately 5000 students in 80-100 classrooms in the spring of 2001 and again in the spring of 2002. We used the Stanford 9 and the New Standards Tests for this purpose, not because their content matched that of the new curricula but because these are nationally recognized and nationally normed instruments and can be used to rebut the argument that reformed students "are not learning any mathematics". As of this writing, we are analyzing results from the first assessment of 80 classrooms conducted in April/May of 2001, primarily from reformed classrooms although we did sample a few traditional classes as well. This process will be repeated in April/May of 2002. A preliminary look at our data suggests that students in reformed curricula at both the middle (8th grade) and at the secondary (11th grade) levels "do just fine" on traditionally oriented mathematics standardized tests. More information will follow on these analyses.

The next and we think more important question and challenge will be to systemically document the mathematics that is learned by reformed students and that is not learned by traditional students. As noted above this series of studies is not a part of the present report.

Summary of Students per Curriculum

The table below summarizes the individual district data tables from 20 of the 21 districts with which MASP2 has worked with since the inception of the project in 1997. This data is a snapshot of the situation in the 2000-2001 school year.

As can be seen, 79 % percent of the middle school children in these 20 districts use reformed curricula, while 40 % of secondary student's use one of the NSF programs. It will be noted (from examination of the district data sheets) that some districts were more successful than others in moving toward full implementation. This was one of the original goals of the MASP2 project.

The percentages of students in traditional curricula include pre calculus and calculus students. Many of these students have "graduated" from three years of one of the reformed curricula and have been substantially influenced by them. Three large districts that had no reform curricula in high school during 2000-2001 added significantly to the percentage of students in traditional curricula. One of those districts has now adopted IMP and the numbers in that district will change dramatically.

Now that year 4 of the NSF materials are available for each project, we anticipate that more students will take the 4th level of the NSF programs and less will enroll in traditional pre calculus programs at the high school level. In future years the numbers of calculus students will likely increase as the curricula become more institutionalized and more students become better prepared to become successfully involved in the calculus option at the high school level. In a similar vein, we would expect that college and university level calculus courses would swell for the same reason. In Minnesota, we will have our first graduates of four years of NSF high school curricula in June of 2002. Many will enter college with AP calculus credit and/or will take a calculus course during their freshman year. We are planning a follow through research effort to track their mathematical success at the post high school level. We will have more information about this effort by late spring 2003. Our NSF supplemental grant to assess student achievement will enable us to be active through August 2003.

Name of Curriculm

No. of Students 2000-01


No. of Classes 2000-01


Middle School Reform Curricula

Connected Mathematics Program (CMP)





Math Thematics (STEM)










Total Reform



Middle School Traditional Curricula

Traditional Middle School





Total Middle School




High School Reform Curricula

Contemporary Mathematics in Context (Core+)





Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)





Mathematics: Modeling Our World (ARISE)





Total Reform



High School Traditional Curricula

Traditional High School (Includes pre-calc and calculus)





Total High School