The MSAN Network conducts collaborative research that informs school practices, engages in and evaluates evidence-based instructional interventions, and provides learning opportunities for teachers.

Four focus areas comprise MSAN's research and development agenda:

  • Mathematics
  • Literacy, with an emphasis on adolescent literacy
  • Student-teacher relationships
  • Conversations about race and achievement

MSAN has been working with the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) Institute since 2007 on a mathematics intervention targeting students' conceptions of core Algebra concepts. MSAN districts identified the achievement gap in Algebra I as one of their most critical challenges. The reason for the focus is clear — performance in Algebra I determines for many students whether they will be able to access higher levels of mathematics, attend college, and compete for the numerous career opportunities that require mathematics skills.

Working in collaboration with SERP-affiliated mathematics researchers, MSAN district Algebra teachers and mathematics coordinators created a bank of strategically designed and robustly evaluated algebra assignments targeting critical algebraic misconceptions and utilizing interleaved worked examples.  The team agreed that well-designed assignments can become a tool for shaping and transforming students’ mathematical thinking without requiring disruptive changes to classroom activities.  The assignments and companion PD approach - known as AlgebraByExample - are thus sensitive to both what is practical in school environments and to research on optimal supports for learning. The result? Struggling students who participated in the AlgebraByExample assignments showed a 10% boost in conceptual understanding.

For more information about the AlgebraByExample materials visit the SERP website. Download materials for FREE!


MSAN Report on Research: Read180 (PDF)
TOWN: Building a Teen On-Line Writing Network (TOWN) to support high school students: A writing intervention aimed at motivating reluctant writers.

Funding Agencies




Gates Foundation

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