Scaling Up Mathematics
Jan 1, 2003 - Dec 31, 2007
SCALING UP MATHEMATICS: THE INTERFACE OF CURRICULA
WITH HUMAN AND SOCIAL CAPITAL
Mary Kay Stein, Co-Principal Investigator
School of Education and Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh
The competitive demands of the global economy in the 21st century require greater levels of mathematical skills and understanding among our nation’s children than ever before (NRC, 2001). Despite a plethora of promising mathematics programs, none have “gone to scale” to produce learning gains across the board for all students and schools. When brought to scale, many promising programs—regardless of subject matter—founder or fail to penetrate the core of classroom instruction (see, e.g., Berends, Bodilly, and Kirby, 2002; Cuban 1993; Elmore, 1996; Tyack & Cuban, 1995).
We believe that past approaches have failed because they are rooted—implicitly or explicitly—in overly simplistic ideas of what is required to take proven innovations to scale. We have developed a complex, theoretically driven model of the conditions necessary for successful scale-up of interventions. In our model, successful scale-up depends on the level of human and social capital fostered by districts and present in schools in interaction with the learning demands of the program being scaled.
Our study seeks to understand:
1. How human and social capital within the school interact to affect the breadth, depth and endurance of curricular implementation;
2. How the characteristics of the curriculum intervention moderate the relationship between human and social capital and curricular implementation;
3. How district strategies influence the human and social capital in schools via the structure and organization of professional development opportunities and curriculum roll-out strategy;
4. How the breadth, depth and endurance of implementation of a research-based curriculum ultimately influence student achievement.
To assess these questions, we examine the scale-up of two research-based elementary-level mathematics programs (Everyday Mathematics and Investigations) in two urban school districts. We use a quasi-experimental, nested, mixed method design to examine the conditions and factors that support and impede the successful large-scale implementation of promising programs as well as the changes in student achievement that ultimately result from implementation. The design leverages the multiple levels at which scale-up plays out (teacher, school, and district).
The study is unique in its integration of several distinct theoretical frameworks, resulting in a rich and rigorous assimilation of three inter-related areas: a) The human and social capital requirements needed to enhance teacher learning and classroom implementation, b) the structure (specificity and integrality) of the new curricula, and the associated demands they place upon teachers, and c) the policy decisions of district leaders in facilitating and enabling implementation and persistence of the new curricula. We have assembled an interdisciplinary team of researchers to undertake the study at the University of Pittsburgh and RAND including scholars of cognitive psychology, educational sociology, organizational behavior, human resource management, statistics, and public policy.
By examining the role of curriculum structure in relation to human and social capital, this study will begin to untangle the complex sets of processes that affect the potential of innovations to reach broadly, deeply, and be sustained over time. In so doing, it will offer guidance to policy makers concerned with providing districts and schools the strategies and resources needed to give teachers the personal skills, the social supports, and the curricula that will enhance their performance and ultimately promote the achievement of their students.