$2.5 million NSF Grant Awarded to RME Researchers

Southern Methodist University and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development received a grant award from the National Science Foundation for over $2.5 million to conduct research and develop an assessment system comprised of two universal screening tools for grades K – 2. Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller, professor and Texas Instruments Endowed Chair, and Dr. Lindsey Perry, researcher and Simmons School 2016 Ph.D. graduate, are the Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator, respectively. The four-year project (award number 172110), Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning, with an anticipated start date of September 15, 2017, employs an iterative research design for developing assessments, a process that Dr. Ketterlin-Geller has devoted much of her 20-year career to. “This is an opportunity to develop an assessment system can help teachers support students at the earliest, and arguably one of the most critical, phases of a child’s mathematical development. Few assessments are available to measure these critical concepts, and yet providing teachers with data to understand how a child processes these concepts can have a long-term impact on their success not only in advanced math like Algebra, but also success in STEM fields, such as chemistry, biology, geology and engineering.”

Critical to Early Learning, Long-term Impact

Despite increased commitments in the U.S. to improve achievement in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), students remain at a disadvantage all the way through high school and even entering college. Only 41 percent of students are prepared for college-level mathematics (ACT, 2016), and this clearly filters down to the elementary grades. According to the 2015 Mathematics National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report, only 40 percent of fourth-grade students in the U.S. were classified as proficient or advanced, and these numbers have not improved between 2009 and 2015. In fact, the Geometry scale of the fourth-grade mathematics NAEP were significantly lower in 2015 than in 2009.

According to one study, early mathematics is a better and more powerful predictor of future learning, including reading and mathematics achievement, compared to early reading ability or other factors such as attention skills (Duncan et al., 2007). What’s more is that students’ early mathematics knowledge is a more powerful predictor of their future socioeconomic status (SES) at age 42 than their family’s SES as children (Ritchie & Bates, 2013). While early mathematics comprises numerous skills, number sense, the ability to work with numbers flexibly (Gersten & Chard, 1999), and spatial sense, the ability to understand the complexity of one’s environment (Clements, 1998) are consistently identified as two of the main components that should be emphasized in early mathematics standards and instruction (Clements, 2004; NCTM, 2000; National Research Council [NRC], 2001, 2009).

Simmons Researchers

Dr. Perry graduated from the Simmons School doctoral program in 2016, writing and presenting her dissertation specifically on these two mathematical constructs. “I’m passionate about this research because students who can reason spatially and relationally with numbers are better equipped for future mathematics courses, STEM degrees, and STEM careers. While these are very foundational and predictive constructs, these reasoning skills have typically not been emphasized at these grade levels, and universal screening tools focused on these topics do not yet exist. Since intervention in preschool and the early elementary grades can significantly improve mathematics achievement, it is critical that K-2 teachers have access to high-quality screening tools to help them with their intervention efforts. We feel that the Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system can really make a difference for K-2 teachers as they prepare the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Universal screeners are assessments that are quick to administer for teachers and students, yet can provide significant insight into where a student is in there learning. Universal screeners allow teachers to identify students who are struggling or at-risk for struggling with a set of concepts and the level of intensity of support students need in order to be successful. Screeners are typically administered three times per year to monitor students’ progress.

Teachers should be able to collect reliable data about critical and predictive mathematical constructs in order to make valid and informed decisions about their students and their instruction. And that’s the ultimate goal of this project. Dr. Ketterlin Geller says, “Our work historically has been in support of teachers and leaders at the school and district levels. The difference is made in the classroom, and data from formative assessments such as these can provide teachers with meaningful information to guide their instruction. By helping teachers identify students who may be struggling early in the learning process, they can target their intervention efforts to support these students’ needs. Our intention is this early intervention will prevent later difficulties so students are on track for successful learning experiences in mathematics and beyond.”

Dr. Ketterlin-Geller is a professor, Texas Instruments Endowed Chair, and director of the Research in Mathematics Education Unit at SMU. She has served as principal investigator for numerous funded projects to design formative and summative assessment systems in mathematics, as well as instructional interventions to support students who are struggling. She is the lead developer for a system of algebra-readiness universal screeners and diagnostic assessments for all Texas public school children in grades 2-8. She has published articles and book chapters and has presented original research findings at local, national, and international conferences.

Dr. Perry is a former elementary and middle-school mathematics teacher and also worked at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a mathematics assessment specialist and as Assistant Director of Mathematics. She began collaborating with Dr. Ketterlin Geller on statewide assessment initiatives while at TEA and joined the doctoral program at the Simmons School in 2011. Dr. Perry assisted in the development of the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning measures, an international assessment, examining the validity of the interpretations for her dissertation research. She is currently a STEM Research & Assessment Coordinator at the Research in Mathematics Education unit.

Research in Mathematics Education (RME) at Southern Methodist University was established in 2011 with an infrastructure grant from the Meadows Foundation. RME’s mission is to conduct high-quality research in mathematics education, to cultivate positive change by educating teachers and administrators about evidence-based practices and systems, and to support mathematics achievement through academic growth and development of all students. Under the direction of Dr. Leanne Ketterlin-Geller, research funding has grown to over $11M in just five years, and the unit has directly and indirectly impacted over 850 Texas school districts, more than 310,000 Texas teachers, and nearly 1 million students in Texas elementary and middle schools.

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2017 Research-to-Practice Conference Most Successful to Date

RME’s 2017 Research-to-Practice Conference, Conceptual Understanding in the Mathematics Classroom: Why it Matters concluded in February with 338 attendees, RME’s largest conference to date. Math teachers and leaders from all over North Texas were in attendance, and the RME team learned through a post-conference survey that:

  • 97 percent of respondents agreed the R2P conference was a valuable professional development experience.
  • 96 percent agreed that they are likely to incorporate what they learned from the conference into their teaching or coaching practice.
  • 96 percent agreed that the speakers delivered high-quality information.

The teachers in the survey also reported that they directly impact over 10,000 student annually, and that 85% plan to attend next year’s conference.

The RME conference would not be possible without the continued support of our generous funders, Istation, The Meadows Foundation, the Hoglund Foundation, and Reasoning Mind.

 

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Summer Teaching Opportunity

SMU College Access Programs, Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math & Science has summer teaching opportunities for AP Math Instructors. The subjects include Pre-AP Algebra, Pre-AP Geometry, Pre-AP Calculus, AP Calculus & AP Statistics. The positions will teach classes for Upward Bound high school students to prepare for Math AP exams during Summer 2017, June 12 – July 20. The instruction times are typically 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, two days a week.

  • Bachelor’s degree in education and current Texas teaching certificate required
  • Secondary math teaching experience required
  • Experience as an AP teacher and completion of College Board AP workshops preferred. National Board Certification also preferred

Send CV or resume to:

Erica Fayson, Upward Bound Math/Science Program Director, efayson@smu.edu

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Dr. Edward Burger to Serve as Keynote for R2P 2017

RME is pleased to announce that we have confirmed Dr. Edward B. Burger as our keynote speaker for the 2017 Research-to-Practice Conference, Conceptual Understanding in the Mathematics Classroom: Why it Matters.

Dr. Edward Burger is President of Southwestern University as well as an educational and business consultant on thinking, innovation, and creativity. He has delivered over 700 addresses worldwide at venues including The Smithsonian Institution, Microsoft Corporation, The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Department of the Interior, The New York Public Library, and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of over 70 research articles, books, and video series (starring in over 4,000 online videos). IN 2006, Reader’s Digest listed Burger in their annual “100 Best of America” as America’s Best Math Teacher. IN 2010 he was named winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching – the largest prize in higher education teaching across all disciplines in the English speaking world. Also in 2010, he starred in a mathematics segment for NBC-TV on the Today Show; that appearance earned him a 2010 Telly Award. The Huffington Post named his one of their 2010 Game Changers: “HuffPost’s Game Changers salutes 100 innovators, visionaries, mavericks, and leaders who are reshaping their fields and changing the world.” In 2012, Microsoft Worldwide Education selected him as one of their “Global Heroes in Education.” In 2013, Burger was inducted as an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In 2014, Burger was elected to The Philosophical Society of Texas. Today he has a weekly, lively program on higher education and thinking produced by NPR’s Austin affiliate KUT. The series is aptly called Higher ED, and the episodes are available at kut.org/topic/higher-ed/ or iTunes.

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Dr. Ketterlin Geller supports Parent Math Training Pilot while in Jamaica

20160810_jamacia_team_8551 Dr. Ketterlin Geller has been living in Kingston, Jamaica with her family since August to support the first months of implementation of the Parent Math Training Pilot project in the island country. Dr. Ketterlin Geller has been meeting regularly with the coaches as they prepare to work with 800 families, managing educational supplies and logistics, connecting with data collectors as baseline data collection begins, as well as working closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure all aspects of the project meet anticipated goals, while sharing more information about the project to the public at lar20160810_jamacia_team_8630ge. Researcher Josh Geller has been actively involved with providing coaches with day-to-day support, communication, and training for the project.

Dr. Ketterlin Geller was recently interviewed on local morning show, CVM Sunrise, along with Dr. Tamika Benjamin, the national mathematics coordinator for the Jamaica Ministry of Education, and together they explained the purpose of the project, how and why it relates to the Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and why the focus is on children in first and second grade.

The most recent information about the status of the project has come through the Jamaica Information System (JIS) via a public service announcement that will be shared on local television and radio stations as well as on social media to provide more detailed information as the project progresses. You can read the full article from JIS here.

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Parent Math Training Pilot in Jamaica Hires Coaches, Now in Implementation Phase

This summer, RME hired four coaches to implement the series of six workshops that will train 800 Jamaican families on foundational mathematics concepts. These workshops utilize everyday items and real-world applications t20160812_jamacia_team_8659hrough games, books, and other activities to engage young children at home. RME researchers spent the past week in Jamaica, working closely with the coaches and modeling the first two workshops to ensure fidelity of implementation. The team will return in December to continue this training with the next set of workshops targeted for delivery in 2017.

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TEA Releases RtI Guidance App

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.26.59 AMIn 2013, the Texas Education Agency partnered with Research in Mathematics Education to begin the process of updating the state’s Guidance Document on Response to Intervention (RtI). TEA formed a committee of experts who decided that the latest research on RtI should be synthesized in a format that is accessible to educators and can support them as they implement RtI across grade level and content area.

The team at RME led the app development, coordinated the nationally-recognized content writers and editors, and managed the timeline of the scope of the project. The app is now available on the iTunes Store and will soon be released for Android.

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RME’s Brea Ratliff Named President-Elect of the Benjamin Banneker Assocation

Brea Ratliff, RME’s Secondary Mathematics Research Coordinator was named president-elect of the BenjamBRatliff_headshotin Banneker Association on April 15, 2016. She’ll serve in this position for one year, and then move into her role as president for two years in 2017. The Benjamin Banneker Association is a non-profit organization made up of teachers, researchers, and teacher educators who are passionate about advancing mathematics education for African American children.

Ratliff joined the organization as a member in 2009 and accepted a role on the board in 2013, where she served at the Southwest regional director. The organization works closely with the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM) and this year celebrated the 30th anniversary of the association at NCTM’s Annual Meeting & Exposition.

As president, Ratliff will bring her passion for connecting research to practice, and ensuring that educators have access to the multitude of resources available to support their classroom.

Read more about the association at http://bannekermath.org/

 

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RME Leads Parent Mathematics Workshop in Jamaica

Research in Mathematics Education continued their work with the Jamaican Ministry of Education and the Inter-American Development Bank to encourage and support mathematical underst20160120_Jamaica_Feasibility_7646anding and fluency in the homes of local families, specifically those with children in Grades 1 and 2 throughout the island country. A feasibility study was conducted with one of a series of six face-to-face parent workshops that includes mathematics games, a culturally relevant book, and other grade appropriate content focused on foundational number concepts such as place value concepts and composing numbers to 10.

Families in the St. Catherine Parish of Jamaica were selected by the Jamaican Ministry of Education to participate in the feasibility study. RME experts led the workshop on the first day, working closely with the coach who would then be training the parents. On the second 20160120_Jamaica_Feasibility_7628 day, the coach spent a full day with parents, working with them as they learned how best to use the materials and how to share them at home with their children. The parents then returned on the final day to share their experiences about the usability and feasibility of the materials.

The RME team received positive feedback about the feasibility of the materials. The RME team will continue to develop learning materials for the remaining face-to-face workshops to best meet the needs of parents who will be helping their children learn mathematics in the home. The team will hire four mathematics coaches in Jamaica over the next couple of months. These coaches will lead the face-to-face parent workshops during the implementation phase of the project.

 

 

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Debbie Hunter Perry Awarded Impact in Leadership

Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller presented Debbie Hunter Perry with the Research in Mathematics Education (RME) 2016 Research-to-Practice Impact in Leadership Award at the 5th annual RME Conference, held on Friday, February 19.

“Deb’s contributions to the mathematics community are substantial. Her commitment to supporting the learning of every child and the growth of every teacher has been an inspiration for our entire team,” said Dr. Ketterlin Geller.

Perry is the Mathematics Coordinator for Midway ISD, located near Waco, Texas. She has been in education for 25 years, and has served at Midway for 15. She has taught mathematics at the elementary, miPerry_3ddle, high school, and higher education levels, and implemented many new training initiatives that engage and empower teachers to deepen their content knowledge in order to make wise decisions about instruction. She was named one of three finalists in 2009 as the Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, and she is an executive board member of CAMT, TASM, and CTCTM.

Perry was nominated based on her demonstrated commitment to

  • cultivating the research-to-practice relationship through implementation of systems-level research-based practices and contribution to research;
  • supporting students’ mathematics achievement through leadership;
  • supporting teachers professional knowledge of mathematics content and/or evidence-based pedagogical practices;
  • innovative thinking focused on supporting teachers and systems through a change process to improve student outcomes; and
  • supporting systems-level implementation of data-informed decision making.

Perry accepted the award with her superintendent, Dr. George Kazanas, and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Dr. Brent Merritt in attendance.

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