California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB Receives $100,000 For Math Study Partnership

Published: July 1, 2013

CSULB, in partnership with Little Lake City School District in Norwalk and the Developmental Studies Center in Oakland, is the recipient of a $100,000 award from the 100Kin10 national network led by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

The California partners will work together with math teachers from second to fifth grades to improve classroom instruction and have the results measured in groundbreaking research to be led by the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Laboratory.

The CSULB project will prepare elementary teachers for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M), and the findings could assist districts across the country in implementing the new standards.

“Building gold-standard evidence about how to develop the best possible STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers is essential to America’s future,” said Tim Knowles, executive director of the Urban Education Institute, which created the Urban Education Lab, a consortium of national researchers committed to improving education outcomes.

The project will examine a time-tested teaching improvement tool called Lesson Study. Developed in Japan, Lesson Study has become increasingly recognized in U.S. schools and teacher training programs as an effective way to advance professional learning within the daily responsibilities and practices of teachers. Teams of teachers collaborate, plan, teach, observe and critique a lesson and together refine it. The project will focus on effective mathematics instruction within elementary schools having a high population of English learners.

“We’re excited to support a project that will not only benefit teachers in this one district but has the potential to shape how elementary teachers develop sophisticated math skills throughout their careers,” said Julie Kidd, education program officer at S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, a 100Kin10 funder that is co-sponsoring the research competition and inspired a specific focus on K-5 STEM educators.

100Kin10 is a national movement of leading philanthropic foundations, corporations, universities and other partners with a shared commitment to provide America’s classrooms with 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021. It made two awards to support gold standard research examining especially promising approaches for enhancing STEM teaching and learning.

CSU joined the 100Kin10 movement in 2012 as the nation’s largest producer of math and science teachers, pledging to prepare more than 1,500 teachers in these fields annually. It proposed this project because of its potential to provide compelling evidence about an approach that will equip teachers to deal with the complexity of the common core standards for mathematics.

“Cal State Long Beach is excited to lead this significant study on behalf of the CSU system,” said Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, dean of the College of Education at CSULB. “The campus has been engaged in preparing teachers for the CCSS-M through Lesson Study for the past two years. We are extremely pleased to now conduct research examining the impact of this internationally respected strategy of teacher collaboration for advancing implementation of the new math standards.”

“Little Lake City School District is honored to have been selected as the partner for this important project,” said Little Lake Superintendent Phillip Perez. “The rigorous examination of Lesson Study conforms closely with our commitment to evidence-based decision-making. The focus on the Common Core State Standards is directly in line with our priorities, and Lesson Study fits exceptionally well with the collaborative culture of teacher learning and professional learning communities in the district.”

The project will use Lesson Study protocols developed by the Developmental Studies Center and demonstrated to be effective in improving teaching practices and student outcomes. The protocols will enable teachers in the district to analyze the new standards, dissect their own instructional methods, share and reflect, and develop teaching strategies that can be replicated elsewhere.

By helping elementary teachers to master the markedly more demanding content and achieve a deep understanding of the mathematical concepts central to the Common Core, the project is expected to enhance their teaching and to improve student learning.

–Rick Gloady