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

Grant Manager: Dr. Susan Vohrer (DE Department of Education)

During the 2016-2017 year, the Delaware Mathematics Coalition (DMC) received funding from the Delaware Department of Education to implement the TRU-Math Project [Teaching for a Robust Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics]. The project engaged grades K-12 teachers, coaches, mathematics specialists, and administrators from eighteen partnership district and charter schools in the state. Business and higher education partners in the grant include:

TRU-Math was purposefully designed to support the following content-focused goals:

  • increase the content and pedagogical knowledge and skills of teachers and coaches of mathematics;
  • expand the use of the two research-based principles for promoting  conceptually-focused mathematics teaching and learning;
  • raise the proficiency of students in project teacher’s classrooms; and
  • leverage the mathematics leadership capacity of teachers, coaches, and administrators in partnership schools.The Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education (DFSME) supported the fiscal management of the grant while Research for Better Schools (RBS) served as the external evaluator for the project.

TRU-Math Project: Research for Better School’s Findings from Year One

The external evaluator for the TRU-Math Project is Research for Better Schools (RBS). RBS has over 50 years of experience conducting research evaluations and has received national recognition for producing evaluations that meet the highest levels of rigor. Across the year, RBS collected and analyzed data related to improvements in teachers’ content knowledge, changes in teacher practice, and the achievement of students in TRU-Math teachers’ classrooms.


  • During the past year, DMC-sponsored professional learning opportunities reached a total of 381 different educators and community members in the state.
  • Matched-score comparisons of pre-post assessment data showed that TRU-Math Project participants made statistically significant gains in their content knowledge during the year.
  • Students in TRU-Math Project participants’ classrooms exceeded the percentage of students who met standards at the state level in almost all grade levels assessed (SBAC, SAT). The demographics of the students in TRU-Math teachers’ classrooms reflected the broader population in the state.
  • The analysis of pre-post video analysis data revealed that TRU-Math Project participants made gains in all four dimensions of the content video analysis rubric (CVA).
  • Findings comparing the achievement scores of TRU-Math participants’ students and their teachers’ attendance rates revealed a positive correlation between teachers’ attendance and the overall performance of their students on the state assessment.
  • Seventy-three percent of third graders in TRU-Math teachers’ classroom met or exceeded the standard in mathematics (state achievement results for grade 3: 53% met or exceeded the standard).
  • Ninety percent of eighth graders in the TRU-Math Project teachers’ classrooms met or exceeded the state standard in mathematics (state results: 38% met or exceeded the standard).
  • Eighth graders in TRU-Math teachers’ classrooms had achievement averages close to 150 points higher than their non-cohort grade level peers in the state, while those who took the SAT had scores 30 points higher than the state average.

“I have found a community that truly connects critical mathematics education research to concrete practice. We reflect on content in a way that deepens my own understanding and connections of important mathematical ideas, discuss pedagogical moves that we can use to encourage student thinking and agency within our classrooms, and focus on how we can become better teacher leaders in our building.”  (TRU-Math Participant, RBS, 2017)