Teaching & Learning Update
Teacher Training Leads to Higher Test Scores
First, they immersed themselves in hours of mathematics lessons over the summer and on Saturdays during the school year. Then they molded that enhanced knowledge into classroom curricula. And finally, they learned strategies on how to impart their newfound skills to fellow math colleagues.
Over the past five years, more than 240 teachers working in 20 public schools in the Bronx borough of New York City participated in a project aimed at improving student math skills through multitiered professional development. The results of that project, called “Teacher Leaders for Mathematics Success,” or TL=MS, are detailed in a recent study by the Academy for Educational Development, and they show impressive results.
Nearly 90 percent of 6,000 participating students in grades K-8 improved their scores on a specially designed test aimed at gauging math knowledge and written-communication skills. That improvement was shown across racial, ethnic, and gender categories in the schools involved, which serve high percentages of children from low-income families.
The teacher training focused on both content knowledge and instructional techniques; teacher-consultants visited schools regularly to work with instructors.
“A lot of things happened in the school culture and with these teachers,” said Suzanne C. Libfeld, the director of a math project for the Institute for Literacy Studies at City University of New York’s Lehman College, which ran the undertaking. Over time, teachers acquired enough expertise that they could help their colleagues and “not have to rely constantly on outsiders,” she said.
The project was underwritten by $1.5 million in grant support from the National Science Foundation, and additional money from the 1.1 million-student New York City school system and Lehman College. The study of the program’s results was conducted by the Washington-based AED, a nonprofit organization focused on education, health, and economic issues.
Vol. 24, Issue 23, Page 14