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PROM/SE: The Quest for Coherence

Abstract

Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics and Science Education (PROM/SE) has released a report called 'The Quest for Coherence', which details project activities and findings over the 8 year project. The project concluded in February 2012. PROM/SE was a comprehensive research and development effort to improve mathematics and science teaching and learning in grades K-12, based on assessment of students and teachers, improvement of standards and frameworks, and capacity building with teachers and administrators. The project was a joint partnership between Michigan State University (MSU) and five consortia of school districts in Michigan and Ohio. PROM/SE was large in its scale, cutting a swath through middle America and involving nearly 7,000 teachers and 300,000 students from some 60 districts, large and small, wealthy and not. Some 37 percent of those students came from impoverished households in rural or urban areas. Because the project worked with data derived from a representative microcosm of the United States, the results have the potential to be broadly applicable to researchers and policymakers nationwide.

The project sought to answer how to successfully create and sustain change in student achievement on a large scale. For PROM/SE, the theory of how to improve achievement for all children was rather straightforward: we needed to understand what students know, what was expected of students based on the standards, what teachers taught, and then improve and align all three. PROM/SE had a unique approach of collecting a wealth of data from many sources within nearly 60 participating school districts and then using it to analyze the relationship between curriculum, teacher training and knowledge, parental involvement, and student achievement. At the outset and at regular intervals throughout the project, students in grades 3-12 across the partner sites were assessed in mathematics and science. Teachers were surveyed about their background, knowledge, and topics they taught. Districts were surveyed about their standards, instructional materials, and professional development. On the basis of obtained data, we reviewed standards and analyzed the alignment of standards with instructional materials and teaching practice, all against the backdrop of international benchmarks from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and provided professional development for teacher leaders, teachers, and administrators.

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