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IES Grant

Title: Algebra Connections: Teacher Education in Clear Instruction and Responsive Assessment of Algebra Patterns and Problem Solving
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Radner, Barbara Awardee: DePaul University
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,052,822
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305M040127

In the United States, student proficiency in algebra is quite low, particularly among low-income, Black and Hispanic students. A significant percentage of poverty-area urban middle school students in the United States do not meet national standards in mathematics. One approach to improving math performance in general, and algebra performance in particular, is to improve teacher preparation. Often, middle school algebra is taught by teachers who have not completed the requisite course work. In addition, teachers are not adequately trained to assess and respond to student learning progress in mathematics. Thus, there is a pressing need for professional development opportunities for middle school math teachers. The goal of this project is to collect evidence of the potential of a professional development program to improve teacher practice and student learning. For this professional development program, in-service teachers complete three graduate courses in algebra and one course in responsive assessment of mathematics learning, and receive weekly in-school support.

Teachers in 12 to 14 Chicago public schools will participate in this study. All will teach middle school students at neighborhood schools that serve primarily African-American or Latino students from low-income communities. Teachers in 5 schools will participate in the year-long professional development program; teachers in 4 schools will receive materials for use in assessing student math proficiency but do not participate in the treatment during the first two program years (a treated comparison group). A no-treatment comparison group will include teachers working at schools with matching demographics to the treatment schools.

Teachers' knowledge about algebra and their lesson plans will be evaluated to examine change in knowledge and practice prior to and after the intervention. Analysis of student achievement data will be conducted to compare performance of students in classrooms of treatment, experimental control, and no-treatment comparison group teachers. A content analysis of student-written explanations of problem solutions will be conducted to compare students' knowledge of problem solving strategies. The overall goal of this project is to provide a working model of teacher professional development that can improve math learning among middle school students at risk for not meeting national standards in mathematics.

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** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2004.