Teaching for A Robust Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics (TRU-Math) Project

Grant Manager: Jennifer Novak (DE Department of Education)

Funded in part through a Mathematics Science Partnership Project administered by the Department of Education, the TRU-Math Project supports the professional development priorities and goals established by the Delaware Mathematics Coalition (DMC). The DMC is an alliance of K-12, business, higher education, and Delaware Department of Education mathematics leaders.

TRU-Math Project District Partners include: Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen, Capital, Christina, Colonial, Delmar, Design-Lab HS, Early College HS, Indian River, Lake Forest, Milford, New Castle County Votech, Odyssey Charter, Red Clay Consolidated, Seaford, Smyrna, & Sussex Tech. Business and higher education partners in the grant include:



The Teaching for A Robust Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics or TRU-Math Project is designed to address the following organizational goals identified by the Delaware Mathematics Coalition:

1) Increase the mathematics leadership capacity of elementary and secondary master and novice teachers, specialists, coaches, K-12 administrators in partnership schools; and
2) Provide a content-focused induction program that supports identified new teachers in teaching for conceptual understanding.

Using a video-based mathematics Leadership Induction Curriculum, facilitators immerse the project teachers in grade level clusters and smaller subgroups to study identified mathematics strands and to analyze strategies that support conceptually-focused mathematics learning. Additional support for new teachers is provided within onsite, and online study teams who use classroom video clips for discussion and analysis. Measurable outcomes for TRU-Math include demonstrating: 1) increases in teachers’ usable content knowledge as measured by pre-post video-based measures; 2) growth in teachers’ ability to engage students in teaching for conceptual understanding as measured by Hiebert & Berk’s video analysis rubric; 3) annual increases in student performance outcomes for claims 1 and 3 of the Smarter Balanced Assessment; 4) annual growth in the percentage of students performing at proficient and above levels on the new SAT exam; and 5) improved statistics on new teacher satisfaction and retention.




TRU-Math Project Leadership Team

Project leaders including university mathematicians and mathematics educators, and internationally, nationally, and locally recognized mathematics experts work within their areas of expertise to: 1) promote a deep understanding of identified mathematics concepts; 2) support master teachers, coaches and their identified study group teams in the use of content-centered video-analysis protocols, and measurement tools (Hiebert & Berk, UD). These video-based analysis tools are grounded in empirical research on teaching for conceptual understanding (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007) and demonstrated strong linkages between teachers’ content-based teaching practices, and increases in student achievement (Kersting 2010, 2012).

Well-respected experienced leaders and teacher practitioners lend credibility to the work with TRU-Math project teachers, facilitating professional development and connecting research to practice. Each of the professional staff members has a history of successful math teaching, and all have worked for many years at the district, state, and national levels as math coaches, math specialists, math assessment writers, project planners, and curriculum supervisors. These members of the project team staff spearhead the on-site work with the small teams of master teachers and new teachers. They serve as “connectors”, maintaining the connections between project professional learning and in-school support, checking in with new teachers, coaching and video-taping master teachers, and attending regular site team meetings.

As part of the professional learning, facilitators immerse teachers, coaches, project-based connectors, and administrators in the five dimensions of powerful classrooms. The research-based framework (TRU Math) developed by Dr. Alan Schoenfeld, has been linked to promoting a robust understanding of mathematics. Dr. Schoenfeld will work with project leads and higher education partners including mathematics educators and mathematicians at Delaware State University, University of Delaware, and Wilmington University to support an equity series aimed at addressing persistent barriers for achieving systemic reform at the school, district, and state levels. The work supports administrators and community members in actualizing our vision for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards.


TRU-Math Project Evaluation

Research for Better Schools (RBS), a nationally recognized evaluation team celebrated for the rigorous nature of their MSP project studies will use a mixed-methods design to conduct formative and summative evaluations of the TRU-Math project. Implementation data that offer insight into the degree to which teachers, connectors, and others achieve project goals will be collected through surveys, interviews, document reviews, and observations of classroom instruction and the professional development. RBS will measure changes in teachers’ usable knowledge using the validated classroom video analysis (CVA) assessment tool described in the top-rated American Educational Research Journal developed by Kersting et. al (2012) and further refined by researchers Hiebert & Berk in their studies related to teaching for conceptual understanding. The quasi-experimental study will compare the extent to which the MSP treatment (TRU-Math) correlates with changes in the pre post scores for a stratified sample of MSP teachers (experimental group) and a comparable group of teachers not in the project (control group). Using a linear regression model, RBS will also analyze how these measures correlate with changes in the achievement of students in teachers’ classrooms.

TRU-Math Leadership Coaching Lab Assessment Link

TRU-Math EMTL Assessment Link

TRU-Math Survey (RBS)