We describe and analyze efforts made between 2002 and 2008 when the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was clearly engaged in a process of systemic reform of K-12 math and science education aimed at improving students' and teachers' classroom experiences and academic performance. Systemic reform of education involves a process through which sets of policies and practices operate coherently to move interconnected resources and groups of people toward improved teaching and learning for all children. In Chicago, reform activities focused on helping teachers acquire a deeper understanding of the content knowledge they taught, become more skilled at using high quality curricular materials, and become more adept at making instructional decisions 'on-their-feet' as they taught. Efforts focused on serving the typical CPS student who often came into class with less preparation in math and science than ideal and from low income urban neighborhoods.
The scale of this reform effort was vast, extending across the over 500 schools, over 20,000 teachers and over 400,000 students in CPS. For example, in 2005-2006 over 3000 math teachers and 1000 science teachers participated in workshops offered to new users of specific math and science curricular materials. In that year, almost 400 schools used these district-supported materials. To give another example, during each year of the reform CPS and its reform partners supported the tuition of approximately 500 teachers taking graduate level math and science university courses.
The reform plan included data collection and feedback loops to inform decisions made at system, district, school and classroom levels, by drawing on formative and summative evaluation, student assessment, and monitoring of outcomes. In this document we draw on these data sources to examine the reform plans and the dynamic changes in activities as adaptations were made. We describe how these processes played out across five years until major changes in district-level leadership altered the context.