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The Philadelphia Report
March 31, 2001
PHILADELPHIA Five years of student achievement data on the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), a National Science Foundationsponsored high school reform curriculum, is now available in an online report entitled "Assessing the Cost/Benefits of an NSF Standards Based Secondary Mathematics Curriculum on Student AchievementPart 1."
In 1993, Philadelphia was one of three pilot sites for the implementation of IMP, an innovative NCTM standardsbased high school curriculum developed over an eight-year period by a team of mathematicians, math educators, and practicing teachers, with support from the National Science Foundation.
The Philadelphia achievement data spans from the beginning of the first pilot year in 1993 to the end of 1998. The data includes a variety of measures comparing IMP to traditionally taught students who used non-standards-based texts. The measures include data on student attitudes, PSAT scores, passing rates, attendance rates, Stanford Achievement Test (ninth edition) scores, and a college math exit exam.
A variety of achievement measures were used, because no one measure can address all the possible methodological issues in comparing a reform curriculum to a traditional one.
The research results are summarized at Philadelphia IMP Research Summary.
The results show IMP is associated with higher student achievement levels regardless of the initial ability level of the student, as compared to their traditionally taught peers. That is, high-achieving IMP students do better than their high-achieving, traditionally taught peers, while students with weak math skills do better than their traditionally taught counterparts.
The Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project, a NSF "local systemic change" project, provides intensive professional development to teachers before implementation of IMP. Its project director, F. Joseph Merlin,o cautions that the mere adoption of IMP textbooks is insufficient for success.
"Teachers working with students is still at the heart of the learning process. Intensive and sustained professional development, follow-up classroom support of teachers, and strong, clear administrative leadership are essential for the success of IMP, or any program for that matter. We have high implementation standards. Teachers should receive a minimum of 240 hours of training over four years and have in-classroom mentors and opportunity for collegial dialogue. IMP involves difficult mathematics, particularly in Years 3 and 4, as well as different pedagogical techniques."
IMP is being used in hundreds of suburban, rural, and urban high schools throughout the United States. One of these high schools includes Strath Haven High, which scored first in Pennsylvania for comprehensive high schools, and second overall, in the April 2000 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)a high-stakes, state-mandated test for eleventh graders.
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