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Methodology

Design Research Component
The design research component of the project seeks to understand what it takes to support instructional improvement on a large scale in an urban school district. The design study has two primary goals: 1) pragmatically, to provide the collaborating districts with timely feedback that can inform their ongoing instructional improvement efforts in middle-school mathematics, and 2) theoretically, to draw on the findings across the collaborating districts to contribute to a generalizable theory of action for district-wide instructional improvement in mathematics. Documentation of the revisions that the four districts have made to their improvement designs based on our feedback recommendations during years 1-4 of the study indicates that this method has been relatively effective and that we have, in effect, become co-designers with district leaders. The long-term product of this work will be an empirically grounded theory of action for district-wide instructional improvement in middle grades mathematics.

Hypothesis Testing Component
The hypothesis testing component of the project seeks to test conjectures relating to instructional improvement in large urban school districts. Hypotheses are developed and refined by reviewing relevant literatures and by drawing on the Theory of Action for District-Level Instructional Improvement in Mathematics. In order to test our hypotheses, we are compiling a longitudinal data set that includes both qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative (e.g., assessment of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching) data.

Theory of Action for District-Level Instructional Improvement in Mathematics
We began Phase 1 of the MIST project with a set of initial hypotheses and conjectures about district and school supports for instructional improvement. We have refined and elaborated these hypotheses, in the process specifying concrete, potentially learnable practices for members of specific role groups (e.g., teachers, coaches, school leaders). These elaborated hypotheses serve to orient both components of the project. Click here to download a description of our current Theory of Action for District-Level Instructional Improvement in Mathematics.


 
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