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Data Connections: Developing a Coherent Picture of Mathematics Teaching and Learning


The purpose of this study is to develop statistical models to create a coherent model of the effects of teacher professional development in mathematics on student learning.

The project works closely with two partnerships of the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program, the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership and NebraskaMATH, and with the Lincoln Public Schools. Utilizing data already collected through these MSP partnerships, the study builds newly developed models to help these and other MSP partnerships and their evaluators interpret student and teacher data in statistically productive and meaningful ways.

Specifically, the project focuses on layered value-added models to estimate teacher effects, and how those models can be adapted for use with messy data, for example when different tests are administered in different grade levels at different times of year. The project is investigating the use of Z-scores, parallel processing, and binning by quantile to address issues arising with available student achievement data.

The scope of the project research includes: 1) methods to estimate student achievement trajectories over time; 2) methods for best connecting these trajectories to measures of teaching quality; 3) connecting measures of student and teacher attitudes to each other and to measures of student achievement and teaching quality; and 4) estimating the impact of MSP interventions on all of the above.

MSP projects, school districts and States are grappling with how to evaluate the effects of their professional development programs for teachers on student learning. Few studies have addressed how to use value-added models to analyze achievement data that are not on a single developmental scale, and even fewer have discussed how to use information from multiple instruments in a single year that are on different scales. In addition to this work, the research findings will be disseminated widely, through presentations at national conferences, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and a dissemination conference targeting MSP project and evaluation personnel. Utilizing value-added models increases the potential to provide evidence of high quality teacher impact in high-need schools. By helping MSP partnerships use the methods developed in this study, the project is building build their capacity to inform the nation of how their MSPs impact teaching and learning.