CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Evaluation of the El Paso Math/Science Partnership

The El Paso Math/Science Partnership (MSP), funded by the National Science Foundation, is working with the twelve school districts in the El Paso region to improve the quality of math and science teaching. Through the El Paso MSP, the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence and its partner districts are providing teachers and administrators access to math and science professional development and on-site support from staff developers with subject-matter expertise. The El Paso MSP initiative is now working with middle grade teachers in 48 urban and rural schools located in the 12 partner districts.

Through the El Paso MSP, staff developers are helping classroom teachers by providing them with on-the-job learning opportunities, demonstrations, feedback on their practice, and materials and tools for improvement. Across all schools, staff developers aim to foster the development of self-managing communities of practice that enable teachers to continuously improve their practice by applying and generating new knowledge about effective teaching.

Project Overview:
In 2005, the Collaborative asked the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania to help strengthen this work by (1) providing expert assistance in strategic planning and program development and (2) assessing the impact of the MSP program from fall 2005 to spring 2007.

In the first role, CPRE worked with the Collaborative and its partners to identify and develop new tools that strengthened the coaching process. These new resources aimed to enhance the capacity of staff developers to access and use the existing knowledge-base about student preconceptions and common errors to both diagnose and solve common problems with teaching and learning in local classrooms.

In the second role, CPRE documented how and to what extent the professional supports provided by MSP enhance teacher instructional practice, pedagogical content knowledge, collaboration with peers, and, ultimately, student performance. Data to support this analysis came from surveys of all principals and math and science teachers in the partnership and classroom observations and interviews with a sample of administrators and teacher leaders in about 15 schools. Using the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), CPRE explored links between the MSP program and changes in student achievement in mathematics and science and identified important mediating factors that influenced MSP program effectiveness.