Towards an Empirically Grounded Theory of Action for Improving the Quality of Mathematics Teaching at Scale

Paul Cobb, Kara Jackson


Our purpose in this article is to propose a comprehensive, empirically grounded
theory of action for improving the quality of mathematics teaching at scale. In doing
so, we summarise current research findings that can inform efforts to improve the
quality of mathematics instruction on a large scale, and identify questions that are yet
to be addressed. We draw on an ongoing collaboration with mathematics teachers,
school leaders, and district leaders in four urban school districts in the US. The
provisional theory of action that we report encompasses a coherent system of
supports for ambitious instruction that includes both formal and job-embedded
teacher professional development, teacher networks, mathematics coaches’ practices
in providing job-embedded support for teachers’ learning, school leaders’ practices
as instructional leaders in mathematics, and district leaders’ practices in supporting
the development of school-level capacity for instructional improvement.


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