Scaling Up Mathematics Achievement (SUMA)
Sponsored Research – National Science Foundation
August 1, 2007 – August 31, 2012

The Scaling Up Mathematics Achievement (SUMA) discovery research grant, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a partnership between New Mexico State University and the Las Cruces Public School District in New Mexico. The university/district partnership works together to study the district implementation of a standards based mathematics curriculum by researching, analyzing and sharing data with stakeholders in the district (schools, district leadership and community). The data sharing and learning between the district, Las Cruces Public Schools, Las Cruces, New Mexico and the SUMA team is accomplished through feedback loops that provide for the collection of the data in relation to the SUMA Building Capacity Model’s three components:

    1. Quality aligned and learned curriculum,
    2. Teacher quality and intentional collaboration, and
    3. Administrative and parent/community support.


The goal of SUMA was to study how a model for Building Capacity for mathematical achievement works in a school district.

Much of what is being done in SUMA is based on a Building Capacity Model (BCM). The model is the framework being used to guide decision-making based on data, and to inform the district about the status of mathematics teaching and learning in its schools. The specifics of this model and the description of the tools and methodologies are displayed below.



The SUMA project used a Design-Based Research (DBR) as both an evaluative tool and a design methodology for continually improving the Building Capacity Model for mathematics achievement in a new setting (Las Cruces Public Schools). Design-Based Research is defined by the Design-Based Research Collaborative as “a method of inquiry in which researchers work together with practitioners as they engage in ongoing cycles of design, test, and revise. New theories may emerge as ideas are continuously replaced by new and improved ones.” The Design-Based Research Model for SUMA is displayed below. Please note that continuous feedback, data analysis, and communication to stakeholders are integral components of the process in a learning organization.


Data from teacher surveys and focus groups:

  • Teachers indicated that they felt overwhelmed by the amount of copying they had to do for Investigations. As a result, the Director of Elementary Instruction had the print shop make copies for the teachers based on their most urgent needs.
  • Teachers indicated that they wanted a different type of professional development. As a result, Math Connected Communities (MC2) in conjunction with LCPS applied for and received funds from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) to conduct week-long math academies for elementary and middle school teachers in Las Cruces.

Data from classroom observations:

  • The non-evaluative classroom observations conducted by NMSU faculty, Professional Development Teachers, and SUMA Teacher Researchers have helped focus teacher training. Additional professional development opportunities on standards-based learning environments, effective assessment strategies, and the use of data to guide instruction have been developed. Further training can be based on the learning difficulties students exhibit during classroom observations.