Toward a Scalable Model of Mathematics Professional Development: A Field Study of Preparing Facilitators to Implement the Problem-solving Cycle

The study includes two and a half years of preparation and support for all the mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) within a large urban school district with a substantial minority student enrollment. These ILs will implement the Problem-Solving Cycle model with the mathematics teachers in their schools. Researchers will analyze the preparation and support that ILs need, the quality of their implementation, and the impact of the PD process on ILs, teachers, and students.

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The primary goal of the project is to investigate the scalability of the Problem-Solving Cycle (PSC) model of mathematics professional development (PD) and accompanying facilitation materials—that is, whether the PSC can be implemented with integrity by multiple facilitators in multiple settings. In the proposed study we will provide ongoing support to a group of middle school mathematics instructional leaders (ILs) so that they can develop the skills to successfully implement the PSC with the mathematics teachers in their schools. The specific nature of this support is expected to change over the duration of the project, and to gradually decrease as the ILs develop the ability to implement the PSC on their own. Our research will address the following questions:

  1. What preparation is provided to ILs prior to their implementation of the PSC? What support is provided during implementation? How does this support change with successive iterations of the PSC?
  2. How do ILs implement the PSC? How does implementation vary across ILs and over time? What factors account for the variation?
  3. What is the impact of preparation for, and implementation of, the PSC on ILs?
  4. What is the impact of participation in the PSC on middle school mathematics teachers?
  5. What is the impact on the mathematics achievement of students whose teachers participate in the PSC?


[1] In this proposal we refer to all school or district personnel who will be trained to facilitate the PSC as “instructional leaders” (ILs) although we recognize that they may have other titles.


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