Scaling Up Mathematics: The Interface of Curricula with Human and Social Capital

LPC Faculty: Mary Kay Stein (Co-PI) & Julia Kaufman (Postdoc)
Funding Agency: NSF

This project studies the scaling-up of curriculum adoption in elementary school mathematics. The investigators propose that the successful scale-up of new curricula depends on the levels of teacher human and social capital that exist within schools, the learning demands for teachers of the curriculum being scaled, and district scale-up strategy. Together, these determine the quality of implementation and level of student achievement. To explore this hypothesis, the investigators are addressing the following questions:

  • How human and social capital within schools interact to affect the breadth, depth and endurance of curricular implementation;
  • How the characteristics of the curriculum moderate the relationship between human and social capital and implementation;
  • How district strategies influence the human and social capital in schools via the structure and organization of professional development opportunities and curriculum roll-out strategy;
  • How the breadth, depth and endurance of implementation of a research-based curriculum influence student achievement.

To assess these questions, the investigators are examining the scale-up of two research-based elementary-level mathematics programs in two urban school districts. One of these school districts (in New York City) uses Everyday Mathematics curriculum, and the other school district (in the southwestern United States) uses Investigations. From January 2004 until June 2006, data was collected through observations of teacher instruction; interviews with teachers, coaches, principals, and district administrators; and a survey distributed to teachers in Spring 2005 and Spring 2006. Data analysis is on-going. To date, the project has yielded publications and peer-reviewed conference presentations regarding the cognitive demand of tasks in reform-based mathematics curricula and instruction (Stein and Kim in press; Stein, Kaufman, and Sutherland 2008), the nature of teachers’ social networks (Coburn and Russell in press), and district affordances and constraints for teacher learning (Stein and Coburn 2008; Kaufman and Stein 2008).