Vermont Mathematics Initiative

Building Capacity across Vermont for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction

Brief Overview of the VMI

 

The Vermont Mathematics Initiative has been developed to support highly effective mathematics instruction across the entire state so that all children can learn the rigorous mathematics needed for success in higher education and the workplace. 

Begun in 1999, the VMI has been in operation continuously for well over a decade as an educational equity based partnership of the University of Vermont, the Vermont State Department of Education, and Vermont school districts.  Originally intended for elementary teachers, the program has been shown to be equally effective with middle school teachers, and now admits high school teachers as well.

At the heart of the Vermont Mathematics Initiative is the concept of building a cadre of K-8 mathematics teacher leaders across the state who are deeply knowledgeable in mathematics content and can apply their knowledge to improve mathematics instruction. In turn, these elementary and middle school teacher leaders serve as mathematics resources to all elementary and middle school teachers in their school and/or district in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

The VMI is founded on the principle that strong mathematics content knowledge of teachers is prerequisite to enhanced pedagogy and higher student achievement.  Indeed, the overarching philosophy of the VMI can be summarized by the adage competence leads to confidence.  Thus, in the VMI approach to mathematics professional development, VMI participants begin to view themselves as mathematicians, to view mathematics as part of their lives, and to see the world around them in a mathematical light.  The resulting impact of these transformations in the VMI teachers' classrooms and schools is far-reaching. As teachers feel more comfortable with mathematics, the more they are able to effectively communicate their knowledge and convey their enthusiasm to their own students and other teachers.

Formal program evaluation, begun in 2004, has indicated that the VMI has had a profound and important impact on the teachers themselves, their classroom practice, and most importantly students in schools having VMI teachers.  In particular, a six year longitudinal study of students of VMI trained teachers revealed significant growth in student achievement in general along with a significant narrowing of the socio-economic achievement gap. 

Dedication

 The Vermont Mathematics Initiative (VMI) is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Marc E. Hull, the Vermont Commissioner of Education at the founding of the VMI and my close personal friend and mentor.  The VMI owes its existence to his dedication to the children of Vermont. 

Whatever you do in education – teaching, professional development, administration, assessment …– always keep the child in the foreground, especially the child who has no other champion.

                                                    The Marc Hull Doctrine

Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the VMI

The design of the VMI has two components, referred to as “Phase I” and “Phase II.”

Phase 1: The Master's Degree Program: Now in its twelfth year, Phase I is a three-year, 12 course, 36 credit master's degree program which trains teachers to be K-8  mathematics leaders in their schools and districts.

Phase II: District Implementation: Begun in 2006, Phase II is designed to utilize a district’s teacher leaders trained in Phase I to reach all K-8 teachers in the district with a core set of mathematics content distilled from the VMI Master’s Degree curriculum, in which the learning and transfer to the classroom is sustained regionally and in districts through mentoring and other meaningful experiences led by the district's VMI-trained teacher leaders.