AMSTI mathematics in grades 4 and 5: student achievement and teacher perceptions
Abstract Concerns with the deficiencies of student achievement in mathematics have prompted reform efforts. This study investigated one reform effort called the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). Quantitative data were collected from the results of Stanford Achievement Test Tenth Edition (SAT 10) and the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT). Qualitative data were collected from the participating teachers. Fourth- and fifth-grade students from four, rural, elementary schools were involved in this study. Two schools were classified as AMSTI schools where the teachers had participated in at least one two-week session of professional development. Two schools were identified as non-AMSTI schools. The participating teachers from the non-AMSTI schools had not received training. Quantitative data were collected from the SAT 10 and ARMT for school years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The students' scores were analyzed using an independent samples t test. Results of the study demonstrated that there was no statistically significant difference in the SAT 10 and ARMT mean scores of the students in AMSTI schools and the mean score of the students in the non-AMSTI schools. Qualitative data involved individual teacher interviews of AMSTI teachers and non-AMSTI teachers based on their perceptions of AMSTI. The interviews were transcribed and studied to determine emerging themes. The dominate themes were AMSTI's impact on teachers, its impact on students, and time required to implement it. The AMSTI teachers had varied opinions of the impact AMSTI had on them and their students; however, all the teachers agreed that AMSTI was challenging to implement. They liked many of the AMSTI strategies, but found it difficult and time consuming to implement AMSTI and meet the mandated requirements that were already in place in the classroom. Additionally, the teachers commented that AMSTI had positively impacted their students with the activities and games. Students were also impacted by the hands-on work with manipulatives and the group work associated with most AMSTI strategies. The non-AMSTI teachers had perceptions primarily based on what they had heard and interpreted from conversations with other teachers. Like the AMSTI teachers, these teachers also saw pending problems with incorporating AMSTI into the required curriculum.