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Research Questions

  1. What is the quality of the current DoDEA kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics program in eight key areas identified by DoDEA?
  2. What is the extent to which teachers' and administrator's current practices supported the implementation of CCRS in mathematics, identified concerns related to the implement of CCRS, and made recommendations for improving implementation in the future?

In 2009, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) adopted a set of mathematics standards and developed its mathematics program (including adopting textbooks, assessments, etc.) to align with those standards. In 2012, in order to be more consistent with the curricula found in U.S. public schools, DoDEA adopted the Common Core State Standards in mathematics (which they refer to as the College and Career Ready Standards [CCRS]). The transition to CCRS began in the 2014–2015 school year. In order to prepare for the transition, the RAND Corporation was asked to conduct an audit of the DoDEA mathematics program, which was built around the 2009 standards. The audit was designed to (1) assess the degree to which best practices from research were in evidence in eight specific areas related to mathematics instruction, professional development, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities and (2) explore the extent to which existing practices in the eight areas support the implementation of CCRS. RAND researchers visited 25 DoDEA schools in nine districts, interviewed principals and teachers, and observed mathematics lessons; RAND researchers also interviewed administrators, superintendents, instructional support specialists in area offices and at DoDEA HQ. The study found considerable variation in the extent to which the current DoDEA mathematics program reflected best practices, and also identified a number of challenges for DoDEA to overcome in implementing CCRS mathematics standards. The report makes recommendations for short-term and long-term implementation strategies.

Key Findings

Textbooks Are Not Well Aligned with the 2009 DoDEA Mathematics Standards, Curriculum and Instructional Quality Varied

  • Teachers reported not having sufficient standards-aligned curriculum resources readily available.
  • Mathematics programs evaluated had a large number of standards that made teacher mastery difficult.
  • Teachers made connections between mathematical concepts within the lesson, but connections between math and other subjects were infrequent.
  • Teachers varied in the extent to which they balanced activities that promote understanding, procedural skills, and applications.
  • Schools had in place strong systems to identify special education students, English language learners and low-performing students; teacher raised the need for additional curriculum resources to meet the needs of low-performing students..

Teachers' Knowledge of DoDEA Standards and Assessment Techniques Varied; Leadership Identification and Administrator and Teacher Professional Development Lacking

  • There were some concerns that teachers, especially at the elementary grade levels, lacked in-depth knowledge of mathematics or confidence in their knowledge.
  • Although the frequency and type of classroom assessment varied considerably across teachers, assessments emphasizing mathematical procedures were more prevalent than assessments that tried to measure mathematical practices (e.g., processes and proficiencies).
  • Principals and teachers appeared to share some responsible for instructional leadership in mathematics, however, principals did not always self-identify and were not always identified by teachers as the instructional leader in mathematics.
  • Principals and teachers received very little extended professional development pertaining to mathematics since the adoption of the 2009 DoDEA standards.

Recommendations

  • Move quickly to align mathematics curriculum, assessments, and support services with CCRS.
  • Provide training to teachers on locating online resources.
  • Help districts develop messages for parents.
  • Support teachers' efforts to change practice by reducing test-based accountability pressures.
  • Provide time and resources for high-quality professional development for mathematics instructional support specialists, principals, and teachers.
  • Build school capacity.
  • Start working with high schools now to ensure broad support for future college and career-ready standards implementation.
  • Monitor the implementation of CCRS.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Methods and Review of Best Practices

  • Chapter Three

    Evaluation of the Current DoDEA Mathematics Program

  • Chapter Four

    Concerns About the Upcoming Implementation of the College and Career Readiness Standards

  • Chapter Five

    Summary, Recommendations, and Next Steps

  • Appendix A

    Schools Visited

  • Appendix B

    Demographics of Schools Visited

  • Appendix C

    Artifact and Observation Rubric

  • Appendix D

    Observation Ratings

  • Appendix E

    Artifact Ratings

  • Appendix F

    Survey Findings

This research was sponsored by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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