Math in Common #15: Balancing Site Autonomy and District Priorities for Sustained Mathematics Progress
From 2013–2018, the Math in Common (MiC) initiative supported 10 California school districts as they began implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The districts received funding as well as access to a community of practice (CoP) to explore and share improvement strategies for math instruction and systems change. Beginning in the 2018–19 school year, the CoP entered a second phase in which funding continued at a reduced rate for districts to sustain their work as a community.
To understand the reach of MiC districts’ math improvement efforts, WestEd has been conducting teacher focus groups and principal interviews at schools in MiC districts for a series of case studies about implementing and sustaining district-level improvement efforts. Data collection is ongoing, but analysis of findings from our first set of conversations with teachers and principals have identified one common and compelling story about the ongoing challenges of education change in districts.
This report focuses on two districts facing significant internal and external forces that challenge coherent and sustained districtwide focus on mathematics improvement and explores how these forces impact educators at three different school sites in those districts.
Readers knowledgeable about the history of education change efforts will recognize the familiar tale of how difficult long-term improvement can be in decentralized district systems. At the same time, these examples offer hope that improvement work can persist from year to year even in challenging circumstances.
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