Date of this Version
Project PRIME (Promoting Reflective Inquiry in Mathematics Education), was funded by the National Science Foundation in October 2002. Implementation subsequently began in 2003 and focused upon K-12 mathematics education within Rapid City, South Dakota Area Schools (RCAS). One goal of the project has been to reduce the achievement gap between Native American and non-native students enrolled in RCAS. At the elementary level, this gap reduction was to be achieved through promoting broader use of inquiry-based mathematics, strategies that have been shown elsewhere to help struggling math students in general (Baxter, Woodward, & Olsen, 2001; Franke, Carpenter, Levi, & Fennema, 2001; Kazemi & Franke, 2004) and Native American students in particular (Demmert, 2001; Hankes, 1998; Nelson-Barber & Estrin, 1995). This ethnography of education policy implementation (Hamann, 2003; Levinson & Sutton, 2001; Muncey & McQuillin, 1996) focused on whether through Project PRIME, inquiry-based mathematics strategies were consistently implemented in the three K-5 elementary schools with a significant Native American student population in RCAS and only then considers whether Project PRIME and RCAS can be used to extend or challenge the existing understanding that inquiry-based mathematics might be particularly advantageous to Native American students.
This study examined 5th grade classrooms during the 2008-2009 year as these students have been the target of Project PRIME the longest; the vast majority of 5th grade RCAS students should have been involved with inquiry-based mathematics for most of their elementary years (if intended implementation was enacted). Implementation at the three high-Native American enrollment schools was then compared with a fourth elementary school that had a lower Native American student population but was considered an exemplar of inquiry-based mathematics by RCAS and Project PRIME leadership.
Advisor: Edmund T. Hamann