Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (AZCCRS): Strengthening Instructional Leadership in Mathematics – A Collaborative Approach

Principal investigator

Carl Hermanns

Direct sponsor

Northern Arizona University

Award start date


Award end date


Originating sponsor

Arizona Board of Regents

The challenge

In 2012 the Arizona Board of Regents provided a grant for the state universities to collaborate in working with partner school districts to provide professional development for teachers on implementation of the new Arizona College and Career Ready Standards in mathematics. When the project concluded, it was clear that principals and assistant principals also needed training to effectively support teachers in implementing the standards. Administrators not familiar with the mathematics instructional shifts required by AZCCRS did not know what to look for when visiting classrooms to observe and evaluate teachers. Many expected to see direct instruction, but teachers had been trained in the inquiry-based approach required by the AZCCRS.

The approach

During the 2014 – 2015 school year, a project team comprising researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University worked with three school districts — Roosevelt (in Phoenix), Sunnyside (Tucson) and Flagstaff — to create professional development for school-based administrators. The professional development plan was based on a needs assessment to determine what administrators knew about AZCCRS math and what they needed to learn. The curriculum was built on a common framework that could be differentiated to meet individual districts’ needs. For example, the ASU–Roosevelt team incorporated AZCCRS math training for administrators into the district’s existing monthly professional development program.

Findings and impact

Surveys of administrators and reports from district leaders determined the professional development was successful in helping principals and assistant principals understand the instructional shifts required for AZCCRS math instruction. Based on that success, the university partners secured a no-cost extension of the grant for 2015 – 2016.

ASU’s Roosevelt district partner used the extension to expand the training to include instructional coaches and teacher leaders. Administrators in the district reported an increase in effective math instruction, and expressed confidence that training will increase teacher efficacy and student achievement in mathematics.

Those administrators also reported that conversations about mathematics instruction changed drastically within the district as a result of their collaboration with ASU and the grant team. Comparing the percentage of students maintaining or exceeding expected growth targets on the district benchmark throughout the year, there was an average gain of seven percentage points among K – 8 students between 2014 – 2015 and 2015 – 2016. The grade levels with the most significant increases were third (17 points), fourth (19 points) and seventh (19 points).

The research team contracted with ASU’s Professional Learning Library to curate and distribute the training materials, making them available to any district in the state.