National Science Foundation
State-Wide Initiative Improves Middle School Math Performance
State: West Virginia

The 5-year teacher enhancement project MERIT: Mathematics Education Reform Initiative for Teachers, has completed its work on developing courses for leaders and mentors that promote colleague teachers’ adoption of standard-based mathematics teaching at the middle school level (grades 6-8). Using a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded curriculum (MathScape), the project trained 35 leaders who led the training of 100 mentors from 46 of West Virginia's 55 county school systems.

Compared to a control group, project evaluators found statistically significant differences in favor of project participants in the following areas:

  • emphasis on standard-based math content during class;

  • perception of own preparedness to teach (algebra, geometry, statistics);

  • knowledge about NCTM standards; and

  • increase in use of standard-based methods (engaging students in discussions, using math manipulatives, and justifying solutions).

The project contributed to the creation of strong sustainable learning communities--networks of leaders, mentors and teachers--that will last beyond the federal funding period, thus providing a model for statewide reform through leadership teams in each county school system. This, in turn, made statistically significant impact on students studying with MERIT teachers (compared to non-participants), as measured by the percentage of students at or above proficient level: grade 6, (66% vs. 55% (highly significant); grade 7, (67% vs. 62% (significant); and grade 8 (70% vs. 66% (significant).

Partners: University and State College Systems of West Virginia, West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, West Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition

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