Foundations for Success: Developing Effective Mathematics Educators through Cognitively Guided Instruction

Over a five-year period, the Foundations for Success project will provide Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) professional development in mathematics for 2,790 elementary teachers and 120 elementary school principals. Participating teachers will receive eight days of professional development during each year of their participation. Designed and led by the CGI Math Teacher Learning Center under the direction of Linda Levi, the CGI professional development program is a three-year, eight-day-per year program focused on number, operations, and algebraic thinking at the K–2 or 3–5 grade levels. Working with an advisory board with extensive expertise and experience supporting equity and excellence in mathematics, the Foundations for Success program will integrate evidence-based practices in early mathematics, fractions, and problem solving with promising practices for teaching traditionally underserved and underrepresented students (and their teachers) in mathematics.

Project Goals and Expected Outcomes. The Foundations for Success project will enhance elementary mathematics teacher effectiveness through large-scale implementation of CGI professional development. The project activities are designed to achieve the following goals:

  1. Provide CGI professional development in mathematics for 2,790 elementary teachers in Florida over the course of five years;
  2. Increase teachers’ knowledge of mathematics and student learning progressions;
  3. Increase teachers’ implementation of evidence-based practices in math instruction;
  4. Increase students’ mathematics achievement with a focus on traditionally underserved and underrepresented students by enhancing CGI to meet their needs; and
  5. Establish structures to support teachers’ sustained implementation of high-quality mathematics instruction in Florida beyond the grant award period.

Program Evaluation. The program evaluation design will use several complementary methodological approaches, including (1) a mixed-methods evaluation of implementation to determine the extent to which the program is being implemented as intended and to inform potential improvements of the program, (2) a multisite cluster-randomized trial to enable causal inference regarding the effect of the program on school, teacher, and student outcomes, and (3) an exploratory study investigating factors in classroom instruction that mediate the impact of the CGI intervention on student achievement.

U.S. Department of Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development program, 2018–23, grant award number U423A180115.

Principal Investigator
Robert C. Schoen, PhD
Associate Director, FCR-STEM, Florida State University

Co-Principal Investigators
Linda Levi, PhD
Director, CGI Math Teacher Learning Center
Walter G. Secada, PhD
Senior Associate Dean, School of Education and Human Development, University of Miami

Senior Project Manager
Amanda M. Tazaz, PhD
Associate in Research, FCR-STEM, Florida State University

District Partners
Approximately one-dozen Florida school districts.

New publication by RTI Press explores the many ways in which teachers around the world are supported throughout their professional careers to improve teaching and learning.

BY: Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi

New publication by RTI Press explores the many ways in which teachers around the world are supported throughout their professional careers to improve teaching and learning.  Thanks to David Evans, Silvia Montoya, Sharath Jeevan for reviews and to all co-authors including Tifa Asrianti, Adrienne Barnes, Guy Bostock, Nancy Clark-Chiarelli, Stephen Backman, Marion Fesmire, Jarret Guajardo, Karon H. Molly Hamm-Rodríguez, Simon King, Scott Kipp, Lee Nordstrum, Dawit Mekonnen, Alison Pflepsen, Mitchell Rakusin, Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Emily Richardson, Timothy Slade. You can download the book “Cultivating Dynamic Educators: Case Studies in Teacher Behavior Change in Africa and Asia” by Sarah Remington Pouezevara from the RTO Press website.

In Chapter 2: “Changing Teacher Educators’ Conceptions and Practices Around Literacy Instruction: Lessons from Teacher Educators’ Professional Development Experiences in Ethiopia” the Florida State University team examined the contribution of the pre-service interventions within the Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Technical Assistance (READ-TA) program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from October 2012 through December 2017. The Learning Systems Institute at FSU was a partner to RTI International on the RAD TA project from 2012 to 2017.  The FSU team worked in five regions of the country, targeting seven national languages. Ethiopia has two chartered cities (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa) plus nine national region states: Afar; Amhara; Benishangul-Gumuz; Gambela; Harari; Oromia; Somali; Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR); and Tigray. As of early 2018, more than 20 local languages were being used as languages of instruction in Ethiopia. READ-TA targeted seven of the most widely spoken languages of instruction.

The professional development activities implemented by the FSU/LSI team of researchers and teacher educators included engagement of Ethiopian educators in module development, adaptation of the modules and related materials into seven mother tongues, and training on the module contents. The pre-service teacher education program prepares student teachers to teach in the mother tongue used as the language of instruction in grades 1–8 in each of the nine regions of the country. Of particular interest were revisions of the mother tongue pre-service teacher education program and the related professional development for teacher educators and student teachers (we use the term teacher educators to refer to the lecturers and instructors at the colleges of teacher education and the term student teachers to refer to the students at colleges of teacher education, also referred to in Ethiopia as “teacher-trainees” and “wouldbe-teachers”).

The chapter describes the extent to which teacher educators’ involvement across multiple initiatives promoted changes in conceptions of literacy instruction; depth of understanding of literacy content; and student-centered, participatory teaching and learning pedagogy.

Suggested citation: Mekonnen, D., Fesmire, M., Barnes, A., Backman, S., Ramos-Mattoussi, F. (2018). Changing Teacher Educators’ Conceptions and Practices on Literacy Instruction: Lessons from Teacher Educators’ Professional Development Experiences in Ethiopia.  In Pouezevara, S. R. (Ed.) (2018). Cultivating dynamic educators: Case studies in teacher behavior change in Africa and Asia. (RTI Press Publication No. BK-0022-1809). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. DOI: 10.3768/rtipress. 2018.bk.0022.1809.

Photo: Dr. Dawit Mekonnen of the University of Addis Ababa and FSU National Coordinator in Ethiopia, Dr. Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, center, the principal investigator on FSU’s element of the Read-TA project, and Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU Panama City wear gowns and scarves given them by their colleagues in Ethiopia, where FSU has been working since 2013 on an ambitious reading-and-writing program.