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Districts with experience using standards-based middle school mathematics curricula share their implementation stories.

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Implementation Story

MathScape

Brookline, Massachusetts

 

Bordered by Boston on three sides, Brookline is classified as an urban-suburban school district. There are nine schools in the district: eight K-8 schools and one high school. As a result, no school is designated exclusively for just the middle grades. There are approximately 4,000 students enrolled in the K-8 schools representing a wide range of SES and ethnic backgrounds. The school district has a reputation for providing high quality education.

Implementation Timeline

The Brookline school district has always been "forward-looking" and interested in creating classrooms that are standards-based. In 1994-95, focus groups were formed with the goal of choosing both a middle school and an elementary mathematics program for the district. The middle school focus group consisted of mathematics teachers from grades six through nine.

The first goal for all focus groups was to identify characteristics that teachers wanted to see in a curriculum. They used the state frameworks as well as the guidelines published by the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) to help frame the discussions. The identified characteristics could be categorized into five areas, which were then investigated and rated for each curriculum. These five areas were Organization, Content, Student Experiences, Teacher’s Role, and Assessment.

After reviewing six different curricula, they chose MathScape and began field-testing topics as soon as they were written. Brookline officially adopted and began to implement the program in the 1995-96 school year. The implementation began by using three units at each grade level. 6th and 7th grades implemented two or three additional units during each of the next two years.

Currently, the sixth grade students are using all the 6th grade units plus some 7th grade units. The seventh graders are using the remaining 7th grade units plus some 8th grade units. The eighth graders are using the remaining 8th grade units as well as the Heath Algebra textbook.

The professional development that accompanied the implementation was supported by Educational Development Center (EDC). The professional development consisted of three meetings each year for three years as well as other extra training and support that Brookline requested.

Student Data

The state of Massachusetts has a new student testing program that has been in place since 1998. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) assesses student learning based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Beginning in the 2004-2005 school year, the MCAS will be administered in mathematics to students in grades 3-8 and grade 10. The results of eighth graders from the Brookline School District and the averages for the state of Massachusetts are shown in Table 1. The results are reported as a percentage of students who scored in four different performance levels (advanced, proficient, needs improvement, warning/failing) for 2000-2003. As the data shows, Brookline’s eighth graders are performing quite well in comparison to the state averages.

Table 1

 

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Brookline

State

Brookline

State

Brookline

State

Brookline

State

Brookline

State

Brookline

State

Advanced

29

8

20

6

32

10

35

11

27

11

27

12

Proficient

37

23

38

22

33

24

35

23

33

23

37

25

Needs Improvement

21

26

27

31

22

27

21

34

23

33

20

30

Warning/Failing

13

42

15

40

13

39

8

31

17

33

16

33

Note: A number represents a percentage of eighth grade students scoring at the indicated level on the mathematics section of the MCAS.

 

Advice to those Implementing Standards-based Curricula

 

Acknowledgement: The Show-Me Center is indebted to Rhonda Weinstein of the Brookline School District for assistance in developing this story.