The Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Urban Elementary Schools project is working with all teachers in grades three through five in the Portland, OR Public Schools in order to test the feasibility and efficacy of the Mathematics Studio Model of professional development. The model requires professional development to occur at the school level involving both teachers and principals. The professional development is conducted at the school and is integrated with instruction. The goal of the project is to improve students' engagement and learning in mathematics by fostering effective instruction. Partners in the project include Teachers Development Group, Portland State University, Portland Public Schools and Horizon Research.
The researchers are identifying the key ingredients that make the professional development successful. They are using a cluster-randomized research design to examine the efficacy of their model. They are using observational measures to identify successful teaching practices as well as student discourse patterns. They are studying the fidelity of implementation of the model and are looking for specific variables that may be particularly helpful for students who have not been successful in learning mathematics.
It is difficult to implement professional development at a large enough scale to make a significant difference in student achievement within a district. This research is important because it tests the use of a practice-based, professional development model within a large, public school system, and documents the challenges of implementation as well as the variables that contribute to student learning of mathematics.