Mathematics Teacher Development in the Context of District Managed Curriculum

Published in: Mathematics Curriculum in School Education, v. 8 of Advances in Mathematics Education / Yeping Li, Glenda Lappan, Editors (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2014), p. 351-376

Posted on RAND.org on June 02, 2015

by Mary Kay Stein, Julia H. Kaufman, Miray Tekkumru Kisa, Sarah Megan Berthold, Katrin Hambarsoomian

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The purpose of this study was to develop and test the viability of a conceptual framework for analyzing mathematics instruction and mathematics teacher development within the context of policies regarding district-wide adoption of curriculum. The framework takes three dimensions of curriculum-based instruction into account independently: use, congruence (the extent to which instruction aligns with district and curricular guidelines), and quality (the extent to which instruction maintains the cognitive demand of appropriately challenging tasks, takes account of and builds on student thinking, and situates intellectual authority in mathematical reasoning). Based on analyses of multiple observations of 36 teachers across two districts, teachers were classified into one of four implementation profiles (flounderer, mechanical, canonical, maverick) that were created by crossing the three dimensions; in addition, their trajectory through those profiles was traced over a two-year period. Results suggest teachers were more likely to use the district-adopted curricula as the source of their lessons than to align their practice with curricular and district guidelines. Teachers' demonstration of high-quality lessons was less frequent. Differences across the two districts in the percentages of teachers falling into each of the implementation profiles suggests that district actions may have shaped teachers' uptake of the curriculum. Finally, results suggest a more uneven pathway toward high-quality instruction than had been initially conjectured.

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