History and Context

2002: CUSP to OMS to CMSI

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2002 was a watershed year for math and science systemic reform in CPS. An NSF mid-point review of CUSP resulted in CPS changing grant management in order to retain the grant. This set in motion significant changes in the CPS leadership structure for mathematics and science, in CUSP itself, and in overall district math and science policies. From the 1990s to the mid-point review of CUSP in 2002, no single CPS office had coordinated mathematics and science education. The district supported mathematics and science through numerous projects with local schools and individual teachers, each implementing their approaches and activities independently.

CUSP-required changes

The NSF prompted CPS to hire Martin Gartzman (who had directed various math and science education programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago) as the new principal investigator on the CUSP grant, to hire a new external evaluator, and to revise the project plan.

The CUSP was revised to deliver three coordinated initiatives: (1) sequences of university-based teacher professional development courses leading to either a K-5 specialization in mathematics and science, or to a middle grades (6-8) mathematics and science endorsement; (2) a “Leadership Academy” for professional development of staff for the new mathematics and science department and (3) the planning and implementation of a new CPS Chicago Math & Science Initiative (CMSI). The university-based course initiative had its foundation in the beginning years of CUSP. That initiative was expanded and was still in place, in a modified form, at the time this study was published. (See "University Courses on Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge" section of this study for additional detail.)

The CPS Office of Mathematics and Science

In September 2002, CPS created the Office of Mathematics and Science (OMS) to develop a coherent plan for mathematics and science teaching and learning. The OMS was led by a new cabinet-level position, Chief Officer of Mathematics and Science, and staffed by about 30 individuals, primarily teachers who would go on to serve as instructional leaders of math and science. Martin Gartzman, the new Principal Investigator on the CUSP grant, was the first Chief Officer.

One of the first tasks of the OMS was to assess the district’s needs around math and science education. An early OMS study detailed how few properly endorsed teachers were teaching mathematics and science courses throughout the CPS. Given the NCLB context and public concern about Chicago teacher quality, there was a clear need for university-based courses to enhance teacher mathematics and science content and credentials, a goal of the revised CUSP program.

In another early assessment of district needs, the OMS surveyed all schools and found 86 different elementary math and 43 different elementary science curricula texts in use. This diversity was not surprising given that the choice of instructional material was at the discretion of each school via its teachers, principal, and Local School Council. The OMS was challenged to provide effective support and professional development to mathematics and science teachers in the face of this diversity.

The OMS was responsible for administering all facets of mathematics and science programming and infrastructure in the district, including:

Consolidating these responsibilities within a single district office was significant; it marked a move from total school-based management to a mixed model that provided centralized mathematics and science leadership and program direction in a local-control environment. In addition, this consolidation was intended to foster coherence in the district’s portfolio of mathematics and science programs and allow for “one-stop shopping” for those involved in mathematics and science issues in CPS schools. It also provided the Board of Education and senior district leaders a new, district-level locus of accountability for mathematics and science efforts.

New Chief Officer of Mathematics and Science Gartzman (who retained the post through 2006) built the office staff by drawing on various pre-existing departments and district personnel experienced in math and science work. He built the office on a belief that this diverse group of people, representing a variety of pedagogical approaches and instructional programs, could coalesce into the core of a new department, able to create and embrace a new vision of mathematics and science teaching and learning in Chicago. Because of the diversity of work experiences and philosophies of the incoming staff, Gartzman believed that intensive, long-term professional development would allow the staff to create a common vision, rally around it, and learn to work together in a new way. Additionally, he believed that as new staff were hired, this professional development would ease their integration into the OMS. This intensive professional development process marked the beginning of ongoing training for the staff and was known as the “Leadership Academy.”

Leadership Academy

The Leadership Academy engaged participants in an intensive professional development experience over a three-month period (November 2002 through January 2003) for 56 meeting days with approximately 252 contact hours (about 4.5 hours a day). Approximately 30 participants regularly attended these afternoon workshops. Additionally, approximately 50% of these participants also engaged in co-teaching with a CPS teacher who was using a standards-based math instructional program. Co-teaching occurred from November 18 through January 30, an additional 125 contact hours (about 3.5 hours per day).

The Leadership Academy sought to develop coherence at the district level in several ways. First, it sought to create a cadre of district mathematics and science leaders who had a shared vision of high quality mathematics and science instruction in Chicago. This vision would develop from careful review of research literature, discussions with practitioners and academic faculty from across the nation, classroom observations, and co-teaching in classrooms. Second, the Leadership Academy, by modeling effective professional development practices, sought to develop a shared understanding of effective, high-quality professional development (Lieberman, 1995); (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995); (National Research Council (U.S.), Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). Examples of such practices included participants reflecting on their practice, applying new ideas, being actively involved, discussing challenging intellectual ideas, being engaged as experts, and receiving regular feedback. Third, the Leadership Academy sought to build a strong professional learning community from the shared intensive professional development (Newmann, 1996); (Elmore, Burney, & National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, 1997). Fourth, the OMS used the Academy time to design an implementation plan for district-wide mathematics and science reform. Finally, the Leadership Academy planners sought to model strong evaluation practices, including the regular use of formative feedback.

The work accomplished at the Leadership Academy laid the foundation for CPS’s systemic reform of math and science education. Additional detail on the Leadership Academy can be found throughout this paper. For example, "Standards-Based Instructional Materials" includes a discussion of the Leadership Academy’s role in the review and selection of specific instructional materials. Also, several of the key leadership roles discussed in "In-School Instructional Support" were defined during the Academy.

The Chicago Math & Science Initiative

On February 18, 2003, the Chicago Math & Science Initiative (CMSI) was officially launched at a press conference announcement by Arne Duncan, CPS Chief Executive Officer, Barbara Easton-Watkins, CPS Chief Education Officer, and Martin Gartzman, CPS Chief Officer of Mathematics and Science. The CMSI was CPS’s comprehensive approach to transform mathematics and science teaching and learning throughout the district. It included an alignment of district policies, adoption of high-quality research-based instructional materials, more support for teachers (including increased high-quality professional development), and rigorous quantitative and qualitative evaluation by both internal and external professionals to be used in both formative and summative ways (Chicago Public Schools, 2002).

The primary goal of the CMSI was to focus district’s efforts on student engagement, learning, and achievement through:


OMS summarized this vision by highlighting desired outcomes in the table below.

Goal: Students demonstrate enhanced engagement learning and achievement in mathematics and science

Long Term Outcome 1:
High quality classroom instruction in math and science will occur
Long Term Outcome 2:
Increased workforce capacity and competency in math and science content knowledg and pedagogy
Long Term Outcome 3:
Sustainable infrastructure (at school, instructional area, and district levels) and coherent policy directives in math and science will be created
Intermediate Outcomes:
A) Increased use of high quality curricula and assessment tools to improve math and science instruction A) Increased number of highly qualified in-service teachers developed through partnerships with local universities A) Adoption of shared coherent vision of math and science teaching and learning
B) Teaching and learning as a hands-on/minds-on interactive instructional approach that includes collaborative student investigation, discovery, and application of relevant math and science content B) Increased participation in high quality professional development B) Alignment of math and science curricula, instructional strategies, assessments, and professional development offerings
C) Teaching and learning of intellectually demanding material where students communicate and construct knowledge C) Creation of active practitioner networks (teachers, principals, AIO's), both within and across schools, to facilitate long-term support in high-quality math and science practice C) Coordination of internal and external partnerships to support coherent delivery of math and science offerings. This includes consistency of university course sequences to support the district's workforce needs
D) Teachers use materials, strategies, and perspectives sensitive to the needs of students with diverse:
Learning styles
D) Practitioners demonstrate increased content knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts in relation to teaching math and science D) Allocation of financial, human, time, and facility resources to support math and science programming for students
E) Teaching and learning of material that is appropriately paced to introduce students to new concepts as they progress through grade-levels   E) Coherent leadership which advocates for supports, delivers, and manages math and science offerings
F) More classroom time on math and science instruction   F) Strong professional communities of practice for teachers and staff supporting the work

At the Leadership Academy, staff defined the implementation plan for the CMSI. They decided to:

At its inception, the CMSI was a comprehensive plan for both elementary and high schools. However, in 2006 as part of a district-wide restructuring, the OMS became responsible only for elementary school programming; high school math and science education decisions moved to the Office of High School Programs (OHSP).

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