Math 20/20 program is improving student understanding by boosting teacher skills

Phoenix, AZ | Submitted by Laurie King

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One in three eighth graders passed the most recent AzMERIT exam. This data points to a need to improve math teaching and learning in Arizona. One of the most effective ways to increase student achievement is to improve teacher content knowledge. But most teacher prep programs do not emphasize math content knowledge. In an attempt to fill this need, MCESA worked with The Rodel Foundation of Arizona to offer Math 20/20. This program focuses on deepening a teacher’s understanding of mathematics. In turn, they are better able to facilitate students’ learning. It also aligns to the Arizona Education Progress Meter’s goal to increase 8th grade mathematics passing rates to 69% by 2030.

Research shows that Math 20/20 teachers significantly increase their math content knowledge. [1] Math 20/20 takes a comprehensive approach toward professional development. During the first year of the program, teachers take part in full-day training sessions with their grade level cohort. They deepen their understanding of their grade-level math standards. They also learn about teaching strategies best used for teaching those standards. One teacher noted, “Students have many opportunities to discuss strategies and see how other examples of thinking work.” In the second year, teachers work with instructors right in their classrooms. Another teacher shared, “It has helped me to gauge my students’ learning, misconceptions, and target next steps for teaching.” The Math 20/20 team also engages with school administrators. The team ensures administrators can give timely and specific feedback to their educators.

These opportunities transform the school and district vision and culture for teaching math. Math 20/20 is customized for each district. Math 20/20 builds on a districts’ existing curriculum. The Math 20/20 team works with district leaders to assess needs and develop a plan for the trainings. The trainings include 50 hours of instruction for teachers as well as eight hours of training for district and site-based leaders. Workshops and seminars are grade level-specific.

Besides improving teacher content knowledge, Math 20/20 has the potential to impact teacher retention. The program has been found to increase self-efficacy and job satisfaction. Not only does the training help teachers improve student learning, it also increases teacher satisfaction.

Since its start six years ago, Math 20/20 has been implemented in 34 school systems around the state. It has impacted thousands of educators. Research shows student achievement gain equivalent to two additional months of instruction. [2] It’s an effective solution to ensure students develop a deep and broad understanding of math. Beginning July 1, 2018, Math 20/20 will be managed by the Pinal County Superintendent’s Office. Learn more here.

[1]After conducting a dependent t-test (paired-samples t-test) with teacher’s Pre Test and Post Test scores on the University of Michigan Learning Mathematics in Teaching Assessment in the 2016-2017 school year, there was a significant difference in scores from teacher’s Pre Test (M= -0.016, SD= 0.23) to Post Test (M= 0.29, SD= 0.33) with a test statistic of t= 4.08 and a p-value of p=0.001.

[2] Through a five-item student mathematics quiz developed and validated by West Ed using NAEP items, the effect size was 0.5, which is one-tenth of a standard deviation or at least 20% higher than the typical effect size. The extra achievement is estimated to be the equivalent of an extra two months of classroom instruction.

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