“SERP field sites are structured as a set of three closely connected, and partially overlapping, groups: The Core Group, The Design Team, and the Research Team.”
Oakland Field Site
In the winter of 2010 SERP began conversations with Oakland Unified School District’s superintendent, Dr. Tony Smith, and curriculum leaders to establish a strategic research and reform program for secondary mathematics. Although state math test results showed that Oakland’s students had made improvements over the past six years, district leaders acknowledged that overall performance was low, especially for Algebra, and additional efforts were needed to move students toward deep understanding and mastery of math content. Dr. Smith and his team identified three major challenges facing Oakland as it works to improve math teaching and learning:
- preparing, recruiting, and retaining successful teachers;
- implementing effective formative math assessments; and
- creating pathways from pre-k through high school that promote excellent math teaching and learning.
Thus, the SERP research and reform initiative will focus on the three district-identified challenge areas.
Already, SERP has fostered relationships between the Oakland schools and local university faculty to begin work in the three challenge areas. Partnerships are forming with faculty from Mills College, UC Berkeley, and Stanford. A series of meetings will occur in early 2011 to expand partnerships, solidify relationships, generate target goals, and secure funding for the research and reform initiative.
The Oakland schools’ leaders are enthusiastic about collaborating with SERP and university partners. Moreover, the current emphasis on mathematics complements Oakland’s existing science reform efforts and could bolster a district-wide STEM education initiative (science, technology, engineering, and math).