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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Pete Kloosterman
School of Education

Last modified: Monday, July 8, 2002

IU receives $1.3 million NSF grant to improve math education

The Indiana University School of Education has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to use data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to improve mathematics education in this country.

NAEP is the test that will be used to measure success of the "No Child Left Behind" legislation passed by Congress earlier this year. Data from the test are available online at

Peter Kloosterman, IU professor of mathematics education and co-principal investigator for the NSF project, said there are two main goals for the three-year project. "First, we will be providing interpretation for teachers and school administrators of the findings from NAEP from 1990 to 2000. Second, we will use this information to create materials to improve classroom teaching and teacher professional development."

Kloosterman said two IU colleagues, Frank Lester, the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Professor of Education, and Catherine Brown, professor of mathematics education and associate dean for research and development, will assist on the project as co-principal investigators. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics also is cooperating on the project.

"We believe this project will have a significant impact on the mathematics education community, as policy-makers, teachers and teacher educators consider what these assessments tell them about the quality of American mathematics curriculum and instruction," said Kloosterman, a former high school math and science teacher.

The research project will include content and process analysis, comparison studies and trend analysis on two NAEP samples. Comparisons from 1990 to 2000 are based on representative national samples of some 43,000 students in grades four, eight and 12. In 2000, an additional 212,000 fourth- and eighth-graders were tested in a state-by-state comparison of student learning.

Cognitive performance on multiple choice and open-ended questions will be analyzed, along with student responses to various background questions related to their attitudes and beliefs about mathematics and their participation in a variety of classroom activities. Teacher responses to background questions dealing with the nature of their instructional practices also will be studied.

Kloosterman said researchers will focus on core mathematics content such as rational numbers, geometry and algebra, and the key processes through which students should acquire and use mathematical knowledge. Comparative studies will cover such elements as public versus private, urban versus rural, school size, ethnicity and socioeconomic school levels. He said the researchers also will view state-by-state curriculum guidelines and requirements for standardized testing to determine the relationship between curriculum, testing programs and what students learn.

The IU professor said the second focus includes having math teachers develop their understanding of student thinking and the characteristics of effective communication of this thinking. "There also is general agreement that there are too few math materials readily available to teacher educators," Kloosterman said. "We will be developing materials for use by teachers and teacher educators that address these needs. The materials will be designed to engage teachers and students in discussion of the students' work and to support the development of deeper understanding of mathematics and communication of mathematical thinking and reasoning."

Kloosterman has nearly 20 years of mathematics teaching and research experience with the IU School of Education. He served as chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Department and has written several journal articles and book chapters on various aspects of mathematics education.

For more information, contact Kloosterman at 812-856-8147 or