• Joanna HigginsEmail author
  • Ro Parsons


Intervention at scale with the aim of improving student participation, engagement and outcomes in mathematics education is a challenge for educational policy makers and reformers. This article argues that an iterative annual cycle of policy formulation, implementation and evaluation enabled ongoing adjustments to the strategic focus, the professional development model and the system infrastructure as the New Zealand Numeracy Development Project was taken to scale. The analysis draws on the project’s evaluation data over a 6-year period to demonstrate how adjustments were made over time to the pedagogical tools and to the professional development processes. The ongoing development of knowledge supported the management of strategic risks in taking the project to scale: the ongoing appropriation of adequate levels of resourcing to support the school-based professional development model and the availability of system-wide expertise for effective implementation. The analysis suggests that conceptualising implementation as an interdependent and interrelated component of an iterative policy process and as an opportunity for knowledge building ensured a continuing focus on student outcomes. The dynamic approach to the policy process appeared central to building this intervention’s effectiveness and feasibility at scale.

Key words

implementation policy intervention at scale mathematics education policy process professional development student outcomes 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coburn, C. E. (2001). Collective sensemaking about reading: How teachers mediate reading policy in their professional communities. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23(2), 145–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coburn, C. E. (2003). Rethinking scale: Moving beyond numbers to deep and lasting change. Educational Researcher, 32(6), 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coburn, C. E. (2006). Framing the problem of reading instruction: Using frame analysis to uncover the microprocesses of policy implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 343–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Datnow, A. & Park, V. (2009). Conceptualizing policy implementation. Large-scale reform in an era of complexity. In G. Skyes, B. Schneider, D. N. Plank & T. G. Ford (Eds.), Handbook of education policy research (pp. 348–361). New York: AERA.Google Scholar
  6. Department of Education and Training, New South Wales (1998). Count me in too. Learning framework in number. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: Department of Education and Training.Google Scholar
  7. Fraivillig, J. L., Murphy, L. & Fuson, K. C. (1999). Advancing children’s mathematical thinking in reform mathematics classrooms. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 30(2), 148–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Higgins, J. & Parsons, R. (2009). A successful professional development model in mathematics: A system-wide New Zealand case. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(3), 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Honig, M. I. & Hatch, T. C. (2004). Crafting coherence: How schools strategically manage multiple, external demands. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 16–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McLaughlin, M. & Mitra, D. (2001). Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper, going broader. Journal of Educational Change, 2, 301–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Miles, M. & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Ministry of Education (2001). Curriculum update 45: The numeracy story. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.Google Scholar
  13. Ministry of Education (2004). The numeracy story continued. What is the evidence telling us? Wellington, New Zealand: Author.Google Scholar
  14. Ministry of Education (2005). Book 3, getting started. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.Google Scholar
  15. Ministry of Education (2008). Book 1, the number framework, revised edition 2007. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.Google Scholar
  16. Putnam, R. & Borko, H. (2000). What do new views of knowledge and thinking have to say about research on teacher learning? Educational Researcher, 29(1), 4–15.Google Scholar
  17. Rist, R. C. (2003). Influencing the policy process with qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials (2nd ed., pp. 619–644). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Ryan, G. & Bernard, R. (2003). Techniques to identify themes. Field Methods, 15(1), 85–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Spillane, J. P. (2004). Standards deviation: How schools misunderstand education policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Spillane, J. P. & Jennings, N. (1997). Aligned instructional policy and ambitious pedagogy: Exploring instructional reform from the classroom perspective. Teachers College Record, 98(3), 449–481.Google Scholar
  21. Spillane, J. P., Reiser, B. J. & Reimer, T. (2002). Policy implementation and cognition: Reframing and refocusing implementation. Review of Educational Research, 72(3), 387–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Timperley, H. S. & Parr, J. M. (2009). Chain of influence from policy to practice in the New Zealand literacy strategy. Research Papers in Education, 24(2), 135–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Weiss, C. (Ed.). (1977). Using social research in public policy making. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Ministry of EducationWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations