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MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE ENHANCEMENT
Annual Progress Report,
September 1, 2000 - August 30, 2001
Linda Gregg, Leanne Fernald, and Lori Fulton
II. ACTIVITIES AND FINDINGS
1. ANNUAL OVERVIEW AND PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The Mathematics and Science Enhancement II (MASE II) project is a five year (1995-2000) Local Systemic Change (LSC) program for 2000 of the over 8000 K-5 teachers in the Clark County School District (CCSD), Las Vegas, Nevada. The project's year six no cost extension was completed and the final year of the project is currently beginning. MASE II, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), builds on the MASE I leadership program to improve mathematics and science programs for all K-5 students in one of the fastest growing districts in the United States. MASE II is grounded on work with students and teachers in real classrooms with increasingly diverse student populations. Attention is directed at engaging all students in high quality, inquiry-based science and mathematics.
MASE II is designed and implemented as a collegial inquiry into how to enhance and improve teaching and learning of science and mathematics in grades K-5. MASE II staff also see the project as an inquiry into professional development. Project design and implementation is shaped by the context and size of the district, the nature of the LSC program, and project staff beliefs and assumptions. Findings and evidence collected through MASE II inquiries into teaching and lessons learned from project evaluators, the MASE II Advisory Board, MASE II national partners, and other LSC projects contribute to ongoing refinement and enhancement of project design, implementation, and effectiveness. Local and national partnerships enrich MASE II offerings.
MASE II is driven by a clear vision toward the following goals:
The MASE II program targets in-depth learning for teachers and administrators structured around the concept of whole school development, with the school as the "unit of work". MASE II is designed to engage teachers from 44 Project Schools in 100 hours of challenging mathematics and science professional development. Administrators attend a minimum of 36 hours of leadership development. A very carefully crafted leadership development component for teachers builds capacity while maintaining the integrity of professional development. The goals of leadership development are to increase the number of Teacher Leaders and to deepen their knowledge base. CCSD looks to MASE II to build capacity and lead the path to exemplary programs in science and mathematics for all students. In a complementary effort, the Eisenhower grant, CCSD professional development funding, and existing district structures are utilized to simultaneously move K-5 teachers outside the MASE II Project Schools toward standards-based teaching.
- High academic standards for all students
- Mathematically and scientifically literate students
- Students engaged in effective, inquiry-based, hands-on mathematics and science
- Improved understanding, performance, confidence, and achievement
- Effective use of technology
MASE II uses a "multiple strategies" approach to professional development and addresses the needs of novice to experienced and expert teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators in small and large group sessions. During year six no cost extension, teachers extended their knowledge of pedagogy, assessment, and content. Due to mobility many teachers have moved from the MASE project schools. The Teachers on Special Assignment staff has been reduced to three teachers and teacher leaders are assuming an increased role in professional development of colleagues.
MASE project offerings are designed to enhance knowledge in four dimensions: content; pedagogy/assessment; how children learn; and instructional materials. (These offerings are listed later.)
MASE II professional development opportunities include the Leadership Institute, the Mentorship Process, Administrative Leadership sessions, and School Team meetings.
Year Six Accomplishments
Major accomplishments during the year six no cost extension include, and are not limited to, successfully...
- completing a film project with WGBH in Boston who selected the MASE project as a district case study. MASE staff is represented on four of the 18 videotapes in the set. MASE is portrayed in the video Designing Professional Development: A School District Approach. Other videos related to MASE work and staff are Observing and Teaching Mathematics, Observing Science Teaching, and Mathematics Curriculum Workshops.
- continuing to provide professional development with a reduced staff by leveraging Eisenhower funds.
- expanding the partnership with local informal science educators, The Connecting Hands: Offering Lifelong Learning Adventures (CHOLLA).
- maintaining the MASE partnership with local science experts.
- maintaining communication with teachers as they move within the district.
Year Six Challenges
Major challenges during the year six no cost extension include:
- maintaining communication with teachers as they move within the district.
- continuing to focus on a dedication to mathematics and science, while competing with grants providing professional development for technology and multiple district priorities including literacy.
- maintaining the focus on teaching and learning mathematics and science inquiry in the climate of accountability, testing, and district reorganization.
2. PROJECT FINDINGS
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS LEARNED AS A RESULT OF PROJECT ACTIVITIES?
- Contextual factors (e.g., anticipation of district reorganization and change, and the era of accountability) can distract teachers and administrators, resulting in a slow-down of planned participation in professional development.
- Transience is a strength and weakness to project and district implementation of standards-based reform. The capacity of project schools is weakened as teachers and administrators move to new schools. However, because of the movement, innovative strategies and curriculum resources are increasingly being used in schools outside the project.
- Effective communication strategies and tools are essential to maintain teacher focus and commitment to completing MASE II professional development plans.
- Communication with teachers is hard to maintain when they move to new schools not in the project.
- Teachers are at a range of levels of expertise and interest in continuing professional development during year six no cost extension of the project.
- Principal support continues to be a critical component in maintaining teacher focus on improving mathematics and science.
- The culture and habit of using multiple curriculum resources is strong for many teachers.
- Teacher leadership development programs and Teachers on Special Assignment positions need to be institutionalized with secure funding to ensure continued progress toward improved teaching and learning in mathematics and science and access for all students.
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS OR OTHER FACETS OF THE SYSTEM WILL LIKELY AFFECT SUSTAINABILITY OF THE LSC REFORM?
As MASE II continued implementation from September 2000 through August 2001, the district reorganization and state standards, school rating system, and testing impacted the district context.
Central and Site-Based Management/Decision-making
An additional challenge is the mix of central, regional, and site-based decision-making within CCSD. Management is top down related to state and district goals for student learning, achievement, and accountability. Schools control funds for purchasing instructional materials from a list of three choices per content area including FOSS and Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. Roles of leaders still continue to unfold during this time of district change.
The site-based management culture and history of allocation of funds to each school shapes purchase and replenishment systems for science and mathematics materials. Materials purchasing and site replenishment are determined by the Learning Improvement Team decision-making process at each school. Project efforts are continuous to share effective site-based systems and develop district-wide systems that make sense for CCSD, ensuring that teachers and students have immediate access to materials to 'do' science.
WHAT ARE THE UNANTICIPATED EFFECTS OF PROJECT ACTIVITIES?
Growth and Diffusion
Growth continues to be a challenge and puts tremendous pressure on the entire system, and due to transfer policy, creates teacher and administrator mobility within the district. As a result, schools are continually evolving, and a totally unanticipated effect of teacher and administrator mobility is the 'flow-through effect'. As teachers and administrators move from MASE schools to new schools, they are taking MASE philosophy with them, purchasing standards-based materials, and sharing lessons learned and instructional strategies.
MASE teachers are now teaching in 138 of the district's 161 elementary schools. It is extremely hard for three TOSAs to provide adequate support for MASE teachers, maintain communication, and provide the necessary support for teachers to continue the 100 hours of MASE professional development and work to improve mathematics and science teaching and learning. As a result of the mobility of teachers and administrators, MASE project schools must continually renew themselves and this is challenging for the existing staff and administrators.
Another unanticipated effect is the impact a new principal has on an existing MASE project school, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. The need for continuous, consistent professional development for all administrators is evident if programs are to be sustained when new administrators are placed at new schools.
The district is currently experiencing a serious shortage of general funds due to the current status of the economy, limiting the ability of administration to increase funding for additional program support at this time. (Note: Events of September 11th have increased the seriousness of the status of the local economy and has implications that may result in additional budget cuts.)
3. TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
WHAT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES ARE PROVIDED BY YOUR PROJECT?
MASE II professional development is designed to model standards-based inquiry and seamlessly integrate technology with science and mathematics. Project design is grounded in current research and our basic assumptions about learning. Sessions are designed to meet participants' needs while challenging their thinking. MASE II staff recognizes the need to provide standards-based learning opportunities for large numbers of teachers and administrators with a wide range of experience and expertise. Therefore, the design for MASE II offers a 'multiple strategies' approach to professional development including and not limited to:
- curriculum implementation
- workshops, institutes, courses, and seminars
- laboratory lessons
- looking at student work
- one-to-many mentoring
- partnerships with science experts
- developing professional developers
In year six no cost extension three Teachers on Special Assignment worked to provide opportunities for schools to continue professional development. Teachers could select from the MASE offerings listed on the MASE II Professional Development Course Offerings for Teachers chart.
WHAT ARE THE KEY COMPONENTS OF THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN?
The MASE professional development key components include:
- Human Resources
- Planning, Implementation, Feedback, and Refinement
- Leadership Development
- Administrator Development
- Scientist/Community Development
- Professional Development Offerings
Professional Development Curriculum
MASE professional development provides the opportunity for teachers and administrators to participate in high-quality and innovative learning opportunities. The MASE staff designs and implements nationally recognized models of classroom-based professional development and also implements professional development curriculum designed by national experts in the field.
TOSAs and Teacher Leaders train at national leadership institutes and are qualified to facilitate the following sessions:
WHAT ARE THE PROJECT STRATEGIES FOR DEEPENING TEACHER CONTENT KNOWLEDGE?
- Mathematical Resources Services (MARS) Assessment Workshop (MI State)
- Developing Mathematical Ideas, DMI (Education Development Center)
- Bridges to the Mathematics Classroom (TERC)
- Force and Motion (Caltech Precollege Science Initiative, CAPSI)
- Entomology (TEAM 2000/Hands on Learning, Inc.)
- Geology (TEAM 2000/Hands on Learning, Inc.)
- Lenses On Learning (EDC sessions for administrators)
Opportunities for teachers to deepen their content knowledge begins in Structured Use Workshops by helping teachers understand the underlying mathematics and science content in each Investigation unit and FOSS module and continues through content focused sessions. (Please refer to the MASE II Professional Development Course Offerings for Teachers chart.) MASE utilizes nationally-developed professional development curriculum to enhance teachers' science and mathematics content knowledge. Instructional strategies model effective instructional practices, creating a vision of standards-based teaching and learning practice that teachers are expected to emulate.
OFFERING: Entomology, 18 hours - NEW
OFFERING: Bring the Nevada Science Standards to "Life", 30 hours
OFFERING: Force and Motion, 18 hours
OFFERING: Inquiry into Liquids, 12 hours
OFFERING: Inquiry into Matter, 12 hours
WHAT ARE THE PROJECT STRATEGIES FOR DEEPENING TEACHER UNDERSTANDING OF EFFECTIVE PEDAGOGY AND ASSESSMENT THAT PROMOTES STUDENT LEARNING?
Every MASE session is designed to model effective pedagogy and focus on student thinking and learning. Teachers are asked to examine their classroom practice, in light of current research on teaching and learning, to ensure they are providing access for all students to rigorous mathematics and science learning experiences. Participants reflect on the session and examine implications for their instructional practice. This process begins in the Structured Use Workshops and is the major focus of MASE classroom-based sessions.
OFFERING: MARS Performance Assessment Workshops, 12 hours
OFFERING: Science as a Context for Literacy, 18 hours
OFFERING: Inquiry into Technological Design, 18 hours
OFFERING: Life Science and Technology, 6 hours
OFFERING: Geometry and Technology, 3 hours
OFFERING: Data and Technology Applications (DATA), 3 hours
HOW DO YOU HELP TEACHERS BECOME CONVERSANT WITH THE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS DESIGNATED FOR CLASSROOM USE?
Structured Use Workshops are designed to help teachers implement district-adopted Full Option Science System (FOSS), and/or Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, the project-designated instructional materials. The main purpose of the sessions is to become conversant with the instructional materials so that teachers can confidently implement the modules/units in the classroom. The Structured Use Workshops are thoughtfully designed to illuminate important content ideas, program philosophy, pedagogical content, processes, and how children learn. The sessions are followed by site-based professional development (classroom demonstration lessons and/or LASW) so that teachers receive support throughout the implementation process.
OFFERING: Structured Use Workshops: FOSS, 18-24 hours; Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, 30-36 hours.
WHAT ARE THE PROJECT STRATEGIES FOR SUPPORTING TEACHERS AS THEY IMPLEMENT THE MATERIALS IN THEIR CLASSROOMS?
During years one through four, MASE teachers first attended Structured Use Workshops where they performed the activities, learning science and mathematics content that is the focus of each lesson. They studied the program philosophy, pedagogy, and assessment. In Investigations, MASE teachers also studied examples of student responses. Mathematics workshop series are arranged over time so that teachers are able to implement the lessons with students, and return to the session for further assistance and learn about the next unit. All sessions focus on content, how children learn, effective pedagogy/instructional practice, and assessment. Classroom and site-based sessions and laboratory lessons further support teachers as they implement the materials. These sessions also move teachers toward insightful use, thereby supporting implementation. Due to the ratio of TOSAs to teachers, MASE implements a one-to-many model in 'coaching'. The principals' knowledge of inquiry teaching and learning, and the expectations they communicate, influence the degree and quality of implementation of curriculum resources. Therefore, professional development for administrators is a critical component in support of teachers as they implement standards-based teaching, learning and curriculum resources in their classrooms.
MASE TOSAs were a major source of expert support for site-based and classroom-based sessions with teachers, as they implemented FOSS and Investigations in their classrooms. With reduced funding for staff, classroom-based support has not been maintained for MASE II teachers. Schools now have additional district professional development days for site-based professional development to mentor each other.
WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO DEVELOP LEADERS?
Expert leadership is key to sustaining the high quality of professional development in the MASE project. Consultants, TOSAs, and the core Teacher Leader cadres from MASE II provide experienced leadership for the MASE K-5 Using Technology project. During the no cost extension, the focus on leadership development and the building capacity of teacher leaders continues to be a major focus of the project.
MASE II has developed leadership roles at every level of the project.
- Teacher on special assignment (TOSA)
- Classroom teachers
- School team leaders
- Region teacher leaders
- District teacher leaders
- Principals and assistant principals
MASE leaders have the following roles:
- Vision builders
- Designers - Planners
- (Self) Assessors - Evaluators
TOSAs and classroom teachers lead by example as they teach and work with colleagues. Knowledge gained through professional development strengthens teachers' voices; their articulate support when interacting with community members is essential to project success.
Region teacher leaders share their expertise with colleagues from schools in their geographic areas of the district. District teacher leaders are classroom teachers who lead district-wide MASE professional development sessions. Principals and assistant principals are instructional leaders of schools; they support project goals, attend MASE professional development sessions and, when appropriate, national workshops, institutes, and NSF meetings.
In the MASE-tiered leadership development process, project consultants and TOSAs plan together designing study groups, workshops, and seminar sessions. TOSAs and teacher leaders learn from the consultant and each other as they design, implement, evaluate, and refine sessions. TOSAs and teacher leaders have a variety of opportunities to extend their content knowledge by working with different project consultants and by attending specialized courses within and outside the district.
Teacher leaders first participate as learners in workshops and seminars and then gradually move through the mentorship process by observing sessions, assisting facilitators, co-facilitating sessions, and finally assuming lead roles as presenters. Classroom teachers have opportunities to work with project consultants when consultants conduct site-based workshops.
Administrators are critical to the successful implementation of FOSS and Investigations. The MASE staff implements professional development to support them in their roles as instructional leaders. Administrators lead study groups and workshops for other administrators. Workshops are designed for open dialogue about real issues surrounding reform. The goal is for administrators to develop a learning community in order to deepen their understanding of standards-based teaching, learning, supervision, and problem solving. Topics discussed include, but are not limited to, selection and replenishment of materials, teacher and administrator content and pedagogical knowledge, creating a learning community, and sustainability. Using the Horizon protocol, administrators view videos, and/or visit classroom lessons and discuss the implications for meaningful interactions with teachers to promote insightful use of instructional materials, informed decision-making, student learning, and achievement on all forms of assessment. They participate in readings and dialogue groups and share what is working and problem solve together.
WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF TEACHER INVOLVEMENT IN MASE?
To date, approximately 2600 teachers have completed 189,000 hours of professional development; 2010 teachers have completed 183,209 hours or an average of 91 hours. MASE II teachers are teaching in 138 elementary schools and 47 middle schools. About 200 teachers have left the district and another 170 have not been tracked at this time.
One principal said that 85% of the 2001/2002 staff uses FOSS effectively and 15% do not. Another principal reported that she is replenishing all science modules on a regular basis and is happy with the degree and quality of how most of the teachers at her building continue to implement FOSS. She noted that the revised FOSS modules were purchased and feels the teachers are increasing their use of FOSS because of the literacy connections and assessments in these new modules.
WHAT IS THE DEGREE OF CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL IMPLEMENTATION?
MASE II principals interviewed have indicated that teachers at their schools are continuing to implement MASE strategies through FOSS and Investigations. They reported that FOSS was much easier to continue without MASE support. Most principals interviewed said that grade level teachers had developed systems to trteachers new to the school to use the FOSS materials.
Schools implementing Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, have requested additional support. MASE has provided support. The unit guides that TERC has developed are used to help schools develop systems of sustainability and independence by learning how to study the teacher manual independently.
Many principals and teachers consider the Terra Nova science test a reading test. As a result, an increasing number of schools are buying science textbooks to use during reading period to teach students to read informational text. Other schools are purchasing trade books for use in developing student capacity to read informational text. There is also an emphasis on vocabulary development and FOSS supports teacher and student growth with knowledge of content and vocabulary that teachers appreciate.
There is a range of degree and quality of implementation evident in the schools as observed by TOSAs and reported by administrators and project evaluators. Due to current emphasis on accountability as determined by norm-referenced tests, many teachers use a textbook or other resources to add practice to Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. Generally, we find that teachers in schools with the most years of MASE professional development have the greatest confidence in the materials. Principals observe higher degrees of implementation by teachers who have accumulated higher hours of professional development and/or those with the most success using FOSS and/or Investigations.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR NON-TEACHERS?
MASE continues to provide professional development for science experts, UNLV science students, and informal educators. A MASE TOSA facilitates this partnership component and with the serious budget shortage in the district, the program will be in jeopardy when MASE II funding ends. MASE partners are actively seeking grants and funding sources to continue the CHOLLA partnership. UNLV is becoming more active in supporting student involvement with science teachers.
Science experts are recruited locally and attend a half-day orientation before teaming with a teacher leader in the FOSS Structured Use Workshops. The orientation introduces the science expert to the national Science Education Standards and Nevada Science Content Standards, an overview of how children learn, and MASE goals for all students. Science experts continue their professional development as they participate in Structured Use Workshops and classroom visits. Science experts who are qualified and willing will advance to team-teaching the content courses Geology - Rock Talk and Force and Motion with TOSAs and teacher leaders, adding rigor to MASE content and FOSS offerings.
UNLV students are paired with teachers in selected schools to assist with science lessons in classrooms. Their professional development includes MASE training that the science experts attend and continues throughout the school term with a university professor.
Informal science educators meet bi-monthly with a MASE TOSA and classroom teachers for a combination business-professional development meeting. They have the opportunity for in-depth work on scientific inquiry, standards, how children learn, and questioning strategies. Half-day sessions are offered twice a year to informal education staff and volunteers who lead educational tours.
WHAT ARE YOUR REFLECTIONS ON YEAR SIX?
As documented in the Core Evaluation Report, MASE faces multiple contextual challenges such as the continual growth of the district, mobility of teachers and administrators within the district, the political climate, and communication with teachers and administrators. In response, MASE will continue to implement a balanced approach to teaching and learning, and maintain the focus on a student-centered approach to professional. Efforts to improve communication are being examined and staff is currently seeking the technology to support a more effective communication system. The MASE support staff is finally complete, providing the capacity for a more timely distribution of reports to teachers and administrators regarding professional development hours.
Year six seemed to be a year of movement and distractions. The transience was high and as a result MASE II schools had many new teachers and 46 schools had new principals. The focus for principals was on reorganization of the district, and they waited to see how the district would change and who would be their supervisor. Teachers new to FOSS and Investigations are becoming increasingly conscious of state testing and concerned if FOSS and Investigations adequately addresses the tested content and format. Experienced and expert MASE teachers continued to know, based on the success of their students, that FOSS and Investigations do build foundations for success on the multiple forms of assessment including the Terra Nova. The state field test for mathematics eased some concern. Although it is primarily composed of multiple choice items, it also presented open-ended tasks.
Communication and agreement on participant hours continues to be a challenge. The size and movement of teachers continues to have a positive and negative side. MASE relies on faxes and memos for communication with principals. The MASE team is working with the INTERACT staff to create online communication, registration, and database systems. Interact is the district e-mail system. By August, however, the Interact staff admitted that they may not be able to develop such a system to track all district professional development. MASE is continuing to examine options.
It became evident during the year that MASE II would not complete project goals and an additional continuation was approved. It was also clear that the staff of three TOSAs needed to work in different ways to reach MASE teachers who have migrated to 185 schools. The positive side of staff movement is "flow through," teachers and administrators carrying MASE knowledge to new locations. The negative side is the challenge presented in MASE schools as staff works to help teachers new to the building gain knowledge and expertise to implement inquiry teaching and learning and curriculum resources. There is a need to find high, quality online systems for distance learning and to maintain on-going professional dialogue.
An additional challenge and opportunity during year six related to the MASE staff. One expert MASE TOSA retired and, as of September 2001, one is on medical leave and retiring. The new MASE II TOSA, an experienced teacher leader, brings expertise to the position and a burst of energy to the work. Due to the time it is taking for approval for the TOSA on medical leave to retire, MASE is still unable to fill the third TOSA position.
MASE is well positioned to support the district focus on literacy and build K-5 foundations for algebra. During the past two years, we have studied and field-tested a strong literacy component based in challenging, content-rich scientific inquiry. The Science as a Context for Literacy workshop series models and helps teachers see how writing, reading, listening, and speaking are naturally embedded in scientific inquiry. All mathematics sessions are highlighting why and how concept development and MASE approaches to mathematics teaching builds foundations for algebraic thinking and success for all students.
Finally, all planning includes embedding the work in school, region, and district structures to promote sustainability. In reality, the most important element may be the human resources developing in the field as a result of the MASE work with teachers, TOSAs, and administrators who will build the future, based on their experience and beliefs about teaching and learning. It is critical to maintain focus, ignore distractions, turn challenges into opportunities, and perform the work. MASE design is generative and intended to be the basis for informed decision-making in today's world as well as in the future.