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Meaningful Urban Education Reform

Confronting the Learning Crisis in Mathematics and Science

Kathryn M. Borman

Publication Year: 2005

Based on a three-year study of the National Science Foundation’s Urban Systemic Initiative, Meaningful Urban Education Reform is an overview of recent attempts to change teaching in mathematics and science in urban environments. The book evaluates the impact of educational reform on urban schools, determines how schools with the highest levels of poverty in the United States can make successful changes, and investigates how communities and policy makers contribute to student achievement. Contributors provide compelling portraits of classrooms, teachers, and students in elementary, middle, and high schools through case studies and examples from intensive research in four locations: Chicago, El Paso, Memphis, and Miami. They interviewed, observed, and gathered information from district administrators, school principals, teachers, students and their parents, and community members. The book provides valuable insight into how systemic reform works, offers suggestions regarding assessment of successful learning environments, and addresses the need for intensive, long-term professional development for the purpose of engaging teachers with their colleagues in communities of practice supported by a strong school culture.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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p. xi-xi

Traditions in both applied anthropology and applied sociology emphasize the importance of the role of the activist researcher. In general, this role links the work done in the field with praxis. In the case of the project undertaken here, there was obvious overlap between the goals of the National Science Foundation’s Urban Systemic Initiatives program and an activist/researcher approach to evaluation. Specifically, the mission of...

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pp. xiii-xiv

The support and guidance of colleagues and friends throughout the course of our project, “Assessing the Impact of the National Science Foundation’s Urban Systemic Initiative,” helped contribute to the success of this research. We would like to thank the directors of the Urban Systemic Initiatives and their staff members in our four research sites. Their continuous support of our project enabled us to conduct our...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-26

Urban schools have been the target of a series of reforms over the last twenty or more years. During this time, strategies for school improvement to prevent student failure have addressed a wide range of matters: school safety, computer use, parent involvement, business partnerships, and more. Many claim that these earlier efforts have been...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 27-46

This chapter presents findings from our research that address the questions that guided our policy study. Specifically, we address the question: What is the role of institutional and individual leadership in systemic reform? By looking critically at the role played by key players at the district and school levels, we are able to achieve a better understanding of...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 47-66

This statement from two Miami-Dade community stakeholders demonstrates the fact that when stakeholders become involved in educating students, their involvement can take any number of forms, from academic to social or something in between. A dramatic increase in awareness concerning the relationship among home, school, and community...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 67-86

To teach in ways envisioned by the national standards, educators must not only be well grounded in content and pedagogical knowledge; they should also understand how students’ cognitions guide their learning of mathematics and science. Teachers must then provide instruction that allows students to be engaged fully and actively with the subject matter at hand. To engage in the best instructional practices:...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 87-134

This chapter presents data related to teaching and learning in themathematics and science classrooms we visited over the course of ourresearch. A fundamental principle of effective systemic reform is thatchanges must occur in classroom practices, and such changes mustenhance student learning. Therefore, a major portion of this research was...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 135-154

Our evaluation of the impact of systemic reform moved beyond achievement scores on standardized assessments in mathematics and science to include a measure of students’ participation in their own learning. Standards-based reform practices in both mathematics and science call for increased activity that engages students and leads to increased...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 155-195

Arguably the most important aspect of the work we undertook over a three-year period in the four urban sites was to address the question of how well USI reforms in mathematics and science worked to close achievement gaps between groups of underserved students and their more privileged counterparts. Our aim throughout this research was to determine the impact of the NSF reform agenda on student...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 196-214

Improving student outcomes is a complex enterprise linking teachers’ professional development activities and their subsequent classroom practices. Previous research is clear that professional development is indeed an effective lever for improving classroom instruction. Many studies have shown that when teachers are provided...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 215-222

Understanding the factors that enhance the impact of systems reform is critically important for many reasons. Perhaps the most important of these is that equitable reform of urban education is necessary to insure both a just and a prosperous society. Large urban districts educate 25 percent of all school-age students, 35 percent of all poor students, 30 percent of all English-language...

Appendix A:

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pp. 223-252

Appendix B:

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pp. 253-268


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pp. 269-270

Works Cited

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pp. 271-278


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pp. 279-282


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pp. 283-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780791483879
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791463291
Print-ISBN-10: 079146329X

Page Count: 301
Illustrations: 34 tables, 3 figures
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Curriculum change -- United States.
  • Mathematics -- Study and teaching -- United States.
  • Science -- Study and teaching -- United States.
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