# A Sustained Professional Development Partnership in an Urban Middle School Abstract Introduction Purpose

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3 within the same school whose teachers did not attend the classes. We used the t-test for independent samples to determine whether there were any statistically significant differences. Only two of the four middle schools in the district were considered in the analysis since too few teachers participated from the other two schools. (Grip, ) When analyzing all students in the first middle school, students in the treatment group did not have any statistically significant higher gains when compared to students in the control group. However, students in the treatment group outperformed students in the control group on the mathematics subscale. The results are shown in Table 1 below. Table 1: Terra Nova Comparison of Middle School #1 Students for and Subject Control N Treatment n t statistic p value Reading (6.5) Language (1.1) * Math Total Note: *p < 0.05 When analyzing all students in the second middle school, students in the treatment group had statistically significant higher gains when compared to students in the control group on the mathematics subscale, as shown in Table 2. The gain in the mathematics test score that was statistically significant was 12.4 points in the treatment group compared to 4.5 points in the control group. Table 2: Terra Nova Comparison of Middle School #2 Students for and Control Treatment Subject N n t statistic p value Reading (0.9) Language Math * Total Note: *p < 0.05 Measuring Teacher Attitudinal Impact Three methods were used to assess teacher attitudes. The first measure was calculated using the National Mathematics Education survey (Horizon-Research, Inc., 2000). Survey items 406

5 the course. Some felt that they could better identify with their students since they were also experiencing learning and being students themselves. Through this intense, sustained professional development experience, teachers developed a trusting relationship with the College partners. They often turned to the professor for advice or help with an issue at their school. Teachers who have taken all four courses, which was the number originally proposed in the grant, asked for more courses. As a result, we developed fifth and sixth courses, Discrete Math for Middle School Teachers and Concepts of Calculus for Middle School Teachers. The teachers also enjoy the camaraderie that developed among those who took courses together semester after semester. The weekly classes gave them an opportunity to discuss events happening in their schools and classrooms, share their ideas and concerns, and learn together. They worked together in and out of class on projects and explorations. The graduate courses have become a learning community for the teachers and professor. Conclusion The results of this study have implications for other school districts that want to enact change in middle school mathematics. Connecting professional development to the curriculum is not new. However, developing a professional specialization program with in-classroom coaching and mentoring tied to the curriculum is a new idea. Sustaining professional development over the course of several years has a significant impact on teachers and students. Our research shows that the students in the classrooms of the teachers who took the graduate level courses had higher levels of achievement than those in the classrooms of the comparison teachers. Changes in teacher attitude accompanied this. Evaluating the impact of professional development is essential. This study has revealed important information for the district studied. This study continues in this district. We are currently replicating it in another high-need school district, as well. We are also refining our methodology. Continued research with better methodology will enable us to gain information that can be generalized to other high need districts across the state and nation. It is our hope that we can continue to increase the knowledge of the effect of sustained professional development on the learning and attitudes of teachers and students. References Grip, R.S. (). Year-end evaluation of the (Author) Program. Statistical Forecasting LLC. Horizon-Research, Inc. (2000) National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education Mathematics Teacher Questionnaire. Chapel Hill: Author. National Commission on Teaching and America s Future. (2003). No Dream Denied. A Pledge to America s Children, Summary Report. Washington, DC: National Commission on Teaching and America s Future. Olson, Lynn. The Great Divide: Quality Counts, Education Week. Washington, DC: Education Week, January 9, U.S. Department of Education s Mathematics and Science Expert Panel. (1999). Exemplary and promising mathematics programs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. 408

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