Introduction

TIMSS AND THE NRC REPORT

The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a rich source of information that can be used by a broad range of stakeholders to promote discussions and actions to improve K–12 mathematics and science teaching and learning. To support educators, administrators, parents, and others interested in education in using TIMSS materials, the National Research Council (NRC) has prepared a report, Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education (see “Resources”). This report will help educators, administrators, parents and others interested in education to understand what can be learned from TIMSS findings, and it will encourage them to use the information to make improvements in mathematics and science education. Provided in the report are insights into mathematics and science achievement, curriculum, instruction, and school support systems, such as professional development, in the United States and around the world.

PURPOSE OF THE NRC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GUIDE

To make TIMSS information more accessible and useful to educators and the public, the NRC prepared this professional development guide to accompany its report. This guide provides directions and support materials for leading workshops and planning sessions for teachers, educational administrators, higher education faculty, and the interested public. Through the workshops or planning sessions participants will be able

  • To explore key themes and findings from the report;

  • To ask questions about their current practices; and

  • To consider alternatives for action at the local level.



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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education - Professional Development Guide Introduction TIMSS AND THE NRC REPORT The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a rich source of information that can be used by a broad range of stakeholders to promote discussions and actions to improve K–12 mathematics and science teaching and learning. To support educators, administrators, parents, and others interested in education in using TIMSS materials, the National Research Council (NRC) has prepared a report, Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education (see “Resources”). This report will help educators, administrators, parents and others interested in education to understand what can be learned from TIMSS findings, and it will encourage them to use the information to make improvements in mathematics and science education. Provided in the report are insights into mathematics and science achievement, curriculum, instruction, and school support systems, such as professional development, in the United States and around the world. PURPOSE OF THE NRC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GUIDE To make TIMSS information more accessible and useful to educators and the public, the NRC prepared this professional development guide to accompany its report. This guide provides directions and support materials for leading workshops and planning sessions for teachers, educational administrators, higher education faculty, and the interested public. Through the workshops or planning sessions participants will be able To explore key themes and findings from the report; To ask questions about their current practices; and To consider alternatives for action at the local level.

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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education - Professional Development Guide AUDIENCES FOR THE GUIDE The audiences for this guide are professional developers, facilitators, higher education faculty, school administrators, and others who lead workshops and/or planning sessions aimed at reflecting on and improving mathematics and science education. TIMSS does not provide quick solutions for or easy answers to the complex problems of educational improvement. Rather, it offers the benefit of an international perspective from which to view educational practices. It is important, therefore, that the facilitators for the workshops and/or planning sessions described in this guide have strong backgrounds in the TIMSS study and findings and that they read and become thoroughly familiar with the NRC report.1 This will enable the facilitators to explain findings and avoid misinterpretations of data or suggestions that U.S. achievement would improve if only the U.S. would emulate practices used in countries where students scored higher in the TIMSS achievement tests in mathematics and science. Many good resources summarize TIMSS, and these will help facilitators to prepare for their role. Facilitators should review the resources provided in the “Resources” section at the end of this report prior to conducting sessions based on this guide. DESCRIPTION The professional development guide includes Modules (Modules 1, 2—composed of three separate workshops—and 3) tailored for different audiences, purposes, lengths of time, and/or levels of engagement; Notes to facilitators; Overhead transparency masters, as well as masters of handouts for the workshop modules; References to relevant TIMSS and other resources; and Vignettes and lessons from educators who have used TIMSS to make educational improvements in their local schools. Of the three modules in this guide, “Module 1: Framing the Dialogue,” is designed primarily as an information session for administrators, legislative and state education staff, local school board members, and the interested public. It is designed as a 2–2.5 hour overview with the following objectives: 1   Facilitators will want to keep in mind that the groups of students studied in TIMSS were designated as “populations” that do not necessarily match traditional grade levels in the U.S. In TIMSS, Population 1 was mostly 9-year-olds (grades 3 and 4 in the U.S.); Population 2, 13-year-olds (grades 7 and 8 in the U.S.); and Population 3, students in their final year of secondary school regardless of age (grade 12 in the U.S.).

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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education - Professional Development Guide To develop participants’ understanding of the value of using TIMSS as a catalyst for improvement of mathematics and science education; and To actively engage participants with the themes and findings of the NRC’s TIMSS report and the implications. “Module 2: Exploring Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support Systems” contains three 2–2.5 hour workshops, designed to provide more in-depth information on the TIMSS findings in the three topics of curriculum, instruction, and school support systems. Module 2 is primarily for school/district staff and higher education staff interested in exploring the implications of the TIMSS findings for their own practice. School board members also would benefit from extensive engagement with Module 2. It has the following objective: To engage teachers, administrators, and higher education faculty in exploring the key messages of the NRC report and to identify issues for further reflection and implications for action. “Module 3: Global Perspectives for Local Action Planning” is an action-planning guide for audiences who wish to go deeper and use the report to inform their own reflection, inquiry, and/or decision making about curriculum, instruction, and support systems in schools, in school districts, or in higher education settings. Module 3 is intended as a guide for school- or higher education institution-based teams that have already participated in Modules 1 and 2. This third module will help these teams explore the TIMSS findings further and to study their own settings and practices to identify problems and plan improvements. The objective of the materials in Module 3 is To motivate and guide participants to use the NRC report and other data and information within existing school improvement efforts for the purposes of reflecting on practice; engaging in ongoing inquiry; collecting data; exploring alternative practices; and/or making decisions about curriculum, instruction, and/or school support systems and alternative actions. DESIGNING WORKSHOPS AND PLANNING SESSIONS There are several ways that you—as the facilitator—may want to put together the modules in this guide to meet the needs of your particular audience. The guide is designed to be flexible so that you can choose the best module(s) and activities for a particular audience. It is essential, therefore, that you know the needs and expectations of your various audiences and communicate with them ahead of time to find out how best to meet their needs. Module 1 is a stand-alone session that

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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education - Professional Development Guide introduces TIMSS to people with limited time, such as administrators, legislative staff, parents, and other members of the interested public. Module 1 can also be used as an introduction to Modules 2 and 3 for those who have the time and motivation to go more in depth with the TIMSS findings (typically, school and higher education staff and members of action-planning and school improvement groups). The stated goals of each module are briefly stated in this introductory section and again at the beginning of each module, later in the guide. Review these goals with your audience in mind, then choose the modules and activities most appropriate for your group. The chart on pg. 5 suggests how you can use the materials in Modules 1, 2, and 3 to design different workshops and/or planning sessions with different purposes and time available. The learning activities in each module are put together in ways that vary the type of activity to ensure active engagement and time for reflection and application. If you modify this design or the activities of the modules, be sure to strike a balance between activities that explain or provide information to participants and activities that engage participants in talking with one another and generating meaning and insights that they can apply to their own situations.

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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education - Professional Development Guide Purpose Time Available Suggested Module or Workshop/ Planning Session Create awareness among the interested public and administrators of how U.S. students, instruction, curriculum, and schools compare to those in other countries. 2–2.5 hours Module 1 Explore one aspect of U.S. schooling in some depth (curriculum, instruction, or school support systems) to understand how it compares with those in other countries and generate implications for action. 4–5 hours Module 1 and Module 2A or 2B or 2C Explore all aspects of U.S. schooling investigated by TIMSS in some depth and generate implications for action. 8.5–9 hours Module 1 and Module 2A, 2B, and 2C Use the TIMSS findings to plan improvements in one aspect of U.S. schooling and to generate plans for local action (by schools, school districts, or higher education groups). 20 hours Module 1 and Module 2A or 2B or 2C and Module 3 Use TIMSS findings to plan improvements in all aspects of schooling investigated by TIMSS and plan local actions with school district or higher education groups. 40+ hours Module 1, Module 2A, 2B, and 2C, and Module 3 Convene a local action-planning group to collect data and recommend local improvements. 40+ hours Module 1 and Module 3 or Modules 2A, 2B, and 2C and Module 3

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