Teaching Practices and Student Achievement: Report of First-Year Findings from the "Mosaic" Study of Systemic Initiatives in Mathematics and Science

Teaching Practices and Student Achievement: Report of First-Year Findings from the "Mosaic" Study of Systemic Initiatives in Mathematics and Science

Teaching Practices and Student Achievement: Report of First-Year Findings from the "Mosaic" Study of Systemic Initiatives in Mathematics and Science

Teaching Practices and Student Achievement: Report of First-Year Findings from the "Mosaic" Study of Systemic Initiatives in Mathematics and Science

Synopsis

In our increasingly technological society, improving students' performance in mathematics and science has become a critical challenge. During the 1990s, the National Science Foundation funded a series of Systemic Initiatives designed to change the way these subjects are being taught in schools throughout the country. These initiatives sought to align all aspects of the educational system in support of ambitious curriculum and performance standards, with particular emphasis on teacher training and professional development to promote effective changes in instructional practice.

Excerpt

During the 1990s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a number of large-scale initiatives designed to change the way mathematics and science are taught in schools. These efforts, called Systemic Initiatives (SIs), shared a common emphasis on aligning all aspects of the educational system in support of ambitious curriculum and performance standards. Particular emphasis was placed on teacher training and professional development to promote changes in instructional practice that would enable students to achieve the new standards.

Funds were given to states, to urban school districts, and to consortia of districts to implement reforms consistent with NSF's purposes. Sites had considerable flexibility in designing their programs, and they adopted very different strategies for promoting reform. As a result, initial research on the SIs focused on the complex process of development and implementation. Although individual sites gathered information, after five years of funding, NSF had no broad picture of the effects of the reform on student achievement.

In 1996, NSF provided funds to RAND to investigate the relationships between student achievement in mathematics and science and the use of instructional practices that are consistent with systemic reforms. The study, called the Mosaic project, was conducted in two waves: A set of six sites (including both states and urban districts) that were implementing systemic reforms was studied during the 1996-97 school year, and a similar set of six sites was studied during the 1997-98 school year. The same basic analytic design was replicated at each site, and the study draws much of its power and generalizability from this replication.

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