In 2001, the North Bay Mathematics Project (NBMP) and Bellevue Union Elementary District (Bellevue) began working to improve mathematics instruction through “lesson study.” Entering its ninth year in 2010-11, the longevity of this partnership is remarkable for professional development focused on building teachers’ skills at instructional analysis and collaborative reflection—both of which, at the surface, appear distant from student test scores. Yet the partnership has expanded, evolved, and become institutionalized in Bellevue because of evidence that it has led to improvements in teacher practice and student achievement. Improved measurable outcomes and positive professional experiences for teachers led to a broad base of support for the lesson study work. Various stakeholders in turn always managed to find the necessary funds and garner requisite support to continue the work.
This case first describes the beginnings of the partnership and how lesson study was conducted in Bellevue. The case then traces the development of the partnership, describing how grassroots engagement led what began as a small, voluntary enterprise into a comprehensive district-wide program. The closing sections describe the range of outcomes of the partnership from the perspective of various stakeholders, and how this diverse group of supporters combined to institutionalize components of lesson study in Bellevue.