Implementing the New York State Learning Standards in mathematics: Professional development, instructional leadership, and student learning

Linda Anne Heitmann, Fordham University


Mathematics education issues once again appeared in the national news with the December 2004 release of the results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2003 (TIMSS 2003) and the Program for International Student Assessments 2003 (PISA 2003), two international assessments administered in 2003. And once again, the relatively disappointing performance of U.S. students (with some exceptions) has called attention to complex issues involved in improving mathematics teaching and learning in the United States. The need for reform in both mathematics education and mathematics professional development programs for teachers is clearly indicated at both the national and international levels. The relationship between curriculum, instruction, and performance has only begun to be explored. It is in this context that this research was conducted. This research examined the connection between mathematics professional development, instructional leadership, and student learning in mathematics. The vehicle that was used for this examination and evaluation was the multi-year, Implementing the Mathematics Standards project begun in Dutchess County BOCES in 2001. Specifically, it investigated the effects of single year versus multi-year participation in the BOCES Mathematics Project as well as the effects of support from principals, peers, district level administrators, and the local BOCES. The study also considered project participants' sense of professional engagement, professional satisfaction, and priorities set and priorities met. Using a mixed-method procedure incorporating a researcher developed survey instrument, focus group interviews, and an examination of data trends on the New York State Mathematics Assessments (Grades 4 & 8), four hypotheses proposed by the researcher were tested. Results indicated that the Mathematics Advancement and Participation Survey (MAPS) instrument developed to measure BOCES Mathematics Project participants' perception of internal and external support and their relationship to professional engagement, professional satisfaction, priorities set, and priorities met was both valid and reliable. The data indicated that while years of project participation was not significant when predicting participants' professional engagement, professional satisfaction, priorities set, and priorities met, it was noteworthy in its lack of support for Hypothesis 1. Correlation analyses clearly reported the importance of both internal and external support to both teacher quality and student learning. Narrative data collected through two focus group interviews confirmed, cross-validated, and corroborated quantitative findings. Student achievement data presented show that the students of a sample of teachers who had participated in the BOCES Mathematics Project performed at a higher level on the 2005 Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment when using a baseline of all students in the county. The findings highlight the importance of district, school, and service agency leadership in providing a critical bridge between the adoption of mathematics reforms and those reforms making a difference for all students. Their efforts will be increasingly productive as future research provides us with a better understanding of how successful leaders organize today's schools to promote teachers continuous learning as the likeliest way of inspiring student achievement in mathematics.

Subject Area

School administration|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Heitmann, Linda Anne, "Implementing the New York State Learning Standards in mathematics: Professional development, instructional leadership, and student learning" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3210269.