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RELATIVELY LOW MATH SCORES in the Los Angeles
Unified School District have been a longstanding concern, but there
was a significant turnaround after UCLA stepped in to develop a
specialized training program for kindergarten, first- and second-grade
teachers in partnership with LAUSD.
In 2002, LAUSD second-graders on average scored better than 53
percent of all students on a nationwide standardized test, up from
44 percent the previous year. Such an increase is considered a sizable
"Obviously, we were pleased," says Marie Stevens M.Ed.
'88, an elementary mathematics specialist and the district's point
person on professional development in mathematics instruction. She
noted that the UCLA-LAUSD collaboration now has been expanded to
include other grade levels.
Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of
teachers and their students, says Jody Z. Priselac '74, Ed.D. '99,
executive director of Center X, a unit of UCLA's Graduate School
of Education & Information Studies where researchers and practitioners
collaborate to design and conduct programs to prepare and support
teachers in urban schools. The professional-development program
in mathematics instruction was developed within Center X.
The program, known as LUCIMATH (Local School Districts, UCLA, California
County Offices of Education, Institutes of Mathematics), was developed
to help address a history of low student math scores on standardized
tests resulting, in part, from teachers poorly prepared in mathematics
instruction, Priselac says.
Teachers who completed the professional-development program reported
enhanced confidence in teaching math, according to a 2003 report
submitted to LAUSD by the Graduate School of Education & Information
Studies. "While we cannot claim to be the reason that mathematics
scores have risen in the district, we can make the case that we
have contributed to the increase," the report says.
Rosalie Potts, a teacher at 93rd Street Elementary School in Los
Angeles with 30 years of classroom experience, found the UCLA program
to be "a real eye-opener."
"I feel like I'm guiding the children to a greater understanding
of numbers and math sense," she says.