1. Hilda Borko
  2. Professor of Education
  4. Stanford University
  2. Associate Professor of Education (Research)
  4. Stanford University
  1. Rebecca Deutscher
  2. https://cset.stanford.edu/people/staff
  3. Senior Research Associate
  5. Stanford University
  1. Jim Ryan
  2. STEM Executive Director
  4. San Francisco Unified School District

Refining a Model with Tools to Develop Math Professional Development Leaders:...

NSF Awards: 1417261

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

This video features a Research-Practice Partnership (RPP) between Stanford University and a school district to support teacher and student engagement with the district mathematics curriculum and vision for teaching and learning. To address this problem of practice, the RPP is applying design-based implementation research to adapt, implement, and study interrelated models of mathematics professional development and teacher leader preparation. The district’s mission is to provide “each and every student the quality instruction and equitable support required to thrive in the 21st century.”  Two goals to help achieve that mission are:

  1. Access and Equity: Make social justice a reality by ensuring every student has access to high-quality teaching and learning.
  2. Student Achievement: Create learning environments … that foster highly engaged and joyful learners and that support every student reaching his or her potential. (district website)

The RPP is working to achieve these goals by developing district capacity to conduct school-based mathematics professional development. The Stanford research/professional development team is working with district mathematics PD coordinators to prepare and support teacher leaders to lead PD workshops at their schools. The video illustrates the nature of the teacher leader preparation workshops, teacher leaders’ site-based PD workshops, and classroom instruction.

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Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase (13 posts)
  • Icon for: Rebecca Deutscher

    Rebecca Deutscher

    Senior Research Associate
    May 13, 2018 | 06:44 p.m.

    Welcome to our Stanford University/San Francisco Unified School District Research-Practice Partnership. We’re working together to build the capacity of site-based mathematics professional development leaders and to study the impact on the teacher leaders, teachers, and students. This video highlights the preparation of teacher leaders and their workshops with teachers at their own school site. We’re happy to share our PD and research. We look forward to hearing from you with your questions and comments.

  • Icon for: Kevin Brown

    Kevin Brown

    Associate Director
    May 14, 2018 | 10:32 a.m.

    A very nice example of an RPP! I know the attached paper goes into a fair amount detail, but can you highlight some of the changes in the PD model that resulted from input by the SFUSD partners and how that input was collected? Now that the model has been iteratively developed, I was also wondering if there are plans for an impact evaluation or are there more rounds of development that need to take place first?

  • Icon for: Mark Windschitl

    Mark Windschitl

    May 14, 2018 | 12:40 p.m.

    Hilda and colleagues, I was interested in your work with teacher leaders because of our own recent work in Western Washington doing something similar with science teacher leaders. We found it rewarding to do this work, but we did face several challenges. I was wondering what you found to be perhaps unexpected insights when working to develop teacher leaders over time and what you found to be the challenges? For example, were your teacher leaders readily taking up new instructional practices as well new leadership practices for use with peers? Would you add to or elaborate on your four-step model knowing what you do now?

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley

    Megan McKinley

    Doctoral Student
    May 14, 2018 | 04:02 p.m.

    Hello Hilda, Rebecca, and colleagues. I’m interested in hearing more about the role(s) of teacher leaders in this program and the impact of the program on their teaching practices as well as their colleagues’. How would you describe teacher leaders’ relationships with researchers in the Teacher Leader preparation sessions and with their colleagues in the workshop sessions? What were some of your key outcomes for both teacher leaders and their colleagues? What were some unexpected outcomes?

  • Icon for: Hilda Borko

    Hilda Borko

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Education
    May 15, 2018 | 02:00 a.m.

    These posts raise a number of important questions about our project and about RPPs in general.  Here are my thoughts about several of them:


    A Design Team that included Stanford members of the Stanford team and SFUSD district personnel met prior to the first summer institute to adapt the PSC to SFUSD priorities and design the summer institute. One initial adaptation this team made to the PD model was to use tasks in the SFUSD curriculum and include three PSC tasks per cycle, one at each grade level. Thus, rather than all teaching the same task, teachers would only teach tasks that were part of their grade-level curriculum. This decision represented a major adaptation to the original PSC model, which was designed so that when teachers examined classroom video, all would have analyzed and taught the PSC task used in the video clip.


    Mark, we also faced several unexpected challenges in doing this RPP work. As one example, many of teacher leaders with whom we worked had little experience leading professional development, and all of them had little familiarity with the new curriculum.  Modeling activities was an explicit part of the original leadership preparation model, however debriefing of the modeled activities was not. To address their lack of experience, we incorporated modeling and debriefing into each leadership preparation session, and we used protocols to guide the debriefs.  We also experienced an unexpected challenge when the member of the district STEM team who was preparing assume responsibility for the leadership preparation meetings moved out of the area in the fall.  Although we have not made any modifications to the four-step model, I anticipate that we will incorporate more explicit attention to the preparation and support of district personnel to lead the leadership preparation component of the work.

  • Sara Silver

    May 21, 2018 | 04:50 p.m.

    The sustainability of this model will depend on ensuring that new teachers in the district are trained to pick up the PSC so that there is continuity in implementation. No doubt, some flexibility in implementation needs to be anticipated as district policies and leadership change--key levers of sustainability.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    May 16, 2018 | 08:41 p.m.

    Thank you so much for sharing about this innovative district-wide work!  I would love to hear more about how the partnership work launched and the initiation/recruitment of site-based teacher leaders.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Deutscher

    Rebecca Deutscher

    Senior Research Associate
    May 17, 2018 | 02:37 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks so much for your interest in our project. In the first year of the project, we started on a small scale of working with two middle schools in the district. We started the process of learning to work together as partners to help support each other and learned what modifications needed to be made before we increased the number of schools. The second year we expanded to 6 middle schools in the district. The attached journal article (The role of video-based discussion in model for preparing professional development leaders (2017) from the International Journal of STEM Education) on this page has more details about how the partnership launched and how we recruited teachers. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    May 17, 2018 | 02:54 p.m.

    Thanks Rebecca!

  • Maya Keshavan

    May 17, 2018 | 11:01 a.m.


    I am a parent of two SFUSD students (my husband and I are also Electrical Engineers). My son graduates in a few weeks, he's been accepted in to WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which is also my and my husband's alma mater ) as an Electrical Engineering major. He just took the AP Calculus BC test this past week. He also had to take an on-line college math placement test and was placed in to MA 1024, Introduction to Multivariable Calculus. If he gets a 4 or 5 on the AP BC test they will give him credit for MA 1020,1021 and 1022. 

    My son has reaped the benefits of some of the change in philosophy. Not just in his math classes but his science classes.  This group collaboration and project based approach is, I believe, extremely valuable and is what drew him to WPI which has a project based approach to engineering.  

    I also have a daughter who is a rising Junior in the SFUSD and was in 7th grade when the district implemented the new math sequence. I was especially happy with her Geometry class. Geometry is, I think, often misunderstood. This isn't just about proofs and theorems. She worked with her table to build castles and other structures which gave better insight in to "why Geometry". 

    However? This said? I am very unhappy with how the SFUSD has implemented this sequence in Middle School.

    Prior to 2013 every 8th grade student had to take Algebra 1 and that was a huge mistake.  Now there is that extra year in 8th grade in Math 8. Basically giving students who need it more time with some early Algebra content.  

    However? Delaying the full Algebra course (Factoring, Quadratic Equations, etc) for everyone to the 9th grade puts students who wish to major in Engineering behind the proverbial 8 ball. It not only forces them to jump through hoops to access Calculus in 12th grade. It delays advance science such as Physics.

    The class of 2018 was the last cohort who had access to Algebra in 8th grade, this was my son's class. So he was able to take Geometry in 9th and rise through to Calculus BC in 12th. This, as I mentioned above, allows him to begin with Multivariable Calculus in college and to take an introduction to EE class right away as he has the required math. This way he can see if this is what he really wants to do (he is trying to decided between CS or EE). 

    Currently the SFUSD doesn't allow *any* 8th grader access to Algebra 1. There are those who are ready for it, just as there are those who need more time. I am not a fan of this all or nothing approach. Algebra for all in 8th grade as it was or Algebra for none which is their current philosophy. 

    In order for current High School SFUSD students to have access to Calculus in 12th grade they either :

    1. Double up in 9th grade. Taking Algebra 1 and Geometry concurrently. (space dependent at school site)

    2. Double up in 10th grade.  Taking Algebra 2 and Geometry Concurrently. (space dependent at school site)

    3. The district offers a 6 week Summer Geometry class for a small cohort of rising Sophomores determined by their Algebra 1 grade and lottery (space constraints). This is the most worrisome path to me. It flies against everything talked about here. How do you learn a full year of Geometry content in 6 weeks? This isn't credit recovery. The preparedness of these students when taking the SATs and going further in to math (Pre Calculus, Calculus, etc) will be interesting to track. 

    4.  An Algebra 2/ Pre Calculus compression class taken Junior year.  This is mislabeled as an honors as the UC system doesn't recognize it as such. It is also missing some important Pre Calculus content. Lowell High School identified the topics missing: Parametric equations, Polar coordinates, Using inverse trigonometric functions to solve Trig modeling equations, Complex conjugates, Adding and subtracting complex numbers on the plane, Distance in the complex plane, Vectors and matrices, Inequalites, Matrix equations,Matrix inverses and General triangle problems 

    This is very important content for those going on to take Calculus BC. 

    While I have been a supporter of the pedagogy, I have not been happy with the implementation in forcing those ready to accelerate in 8th grade to wait.  

    I paid for my daughter to take an on-line Algebra 1 CCSS class when she was in 8th grade, she took it concurrently with her Math 8 class. She was able to start 9th grade with Geometry and this August is taking Honors Pre Calculus Junior year. She isn't sure if she wants to be an engineer. She is leaning toward Physics (Astronomy). However now she will have access to AP Calculus BC with a full year of Pre Calculus behind her. 

    There is a lot to celebrate in the district's approach to Math. However shutting out children *ready* for Algebra in 8th grade is not one of them. 

    Best Regards, 
    Maya  Keshavan (Mom to a Graduating Senior and Rising Junior.  A K-12 SFUSD family).

  • Icon for: Maya Keshavan

    Maya Keshavan

    May 17, 2018 | 11:16 a.m.

    Sorry! Typo. The course sequence my son will get college credit for if he gets a 4 or a 5 on his AP Calculus BC test is MA 1021,1022 and 1023. That said, if he didn't get placed there through their Math placement test I would not have recommended he start with the fourth in the sequence no matter his score on the AP test. I think a math placement test for incoming engineering college Freshman is a really good idea. 

  • Icon for: Hilda Borko

    Hilda Borko

    Lead Presenter
    Professor of Education
    May 21, 2018 | 04:36 p.m.

    Thank you for watching this video describing the Research-Practice Partnership between SFUSD and Stanford University.  Your comments about the math course sequence in San Francisco are beyond the scope of our partnership work. We encourage you to engage with the district at contact@sfusdmath.org to continue the conversation.

  • Icon for: Maya Keshavan

    Maya Keshavan

    May 21, 2018 | 04:39 p.m.

    Thank you. I have for the last four years. However, I believe it is an important piece of this discussion.  Best Regards. 

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