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Project Info: Making Mathematics Reform a Reality in Middle Schools
staff: Raffaella Borasi (Principal Investigator)
Beatriz D'Ambrosio (Co-Principal Investigator)
Judith Fonzi (Project Director)
grant award #: 9553579
funding began: 06-01-1996
funding ends: 05-31-2000
project focus: Math
grade levels: Middle School
venue type: Suburban,Rural
abstract: The University of Rochester (NY), in collaboration with Roberts Wesleyan College, targets all 48 middle school mathematics teachers in four Rochester area school districts in an experimental model for Local Systemic Change through Teacher Enhancement in Mathematics. The four-year project has a concomitant "research in practice" component involving the ethnographic study of the reform efforts undertaken by the four schools and an evaluation of the outcomes of such efforts. The research is expected to yield both basic and applied findings about "best practices" for systemic reform in mathematics, especially at the middle school level. The teacher enhancement component includes introductory and advanced summer institutes and academic year inservice activities that support teachers, school administrators and parents as they build a shared vision for school mathematics. Each of the 48 teachers receives at least 130 hours of professional development in two week-long summer institutes followed by related field experiences. These experiences are appropriate for different stages of teacher enhancement so participants sustain growth over multiple years. Teachers also deepen their understanding of mathematical content and pedagogical approaches by engaging "as learners" while increasing their understanding of their students learning process. Of these 48, 8 lead teachers receive a minimum of 220 hours of professional development. These lead teachers take on leadership roles in the schools, model and mentor for beginning colleagues, and facilitate on-going change. The professional development is intended to enable teachers to implement four of the NSF-funded middle school curriculum projects (Seeing and Thinking Mathematically, Mathematics in Context, Connected Mathematics, and Middle-school Mathematics through Applications Project - MMAP). Project evaluation addresses (1) the quality and effectiveness of the teacher enhancement component, (2) outcomes of the systemic reform efforts promoted in the four target schools, and (3) the rigor and significance of the associated research.