The innovative DMIC programme was initially developed more than fifteen years ago through collaboration with a group of teachers in a school in a high poverty urban area in Auckland. The students came from very low socio-economic home environments and were predominantly indigenous Māori or of Pācific nations heritage. This group of students have a long history of underachieving in mathematics in New Zealand classrooms, caused by the many structural inequities they had encountered in previous mathematics programmes.
The teachers worked collaboratively with the researcher to develop a Communication and Participation Framework (Hunter, 2008). The Framework is a tool designed to scaffold teachers to engage students in reasoned mathematical practices within communities of mathematical inquiry. Teachers can use the Communication and Participation Framework adaptively, flexibly and in culturally responsive ways. Central to the Framework is the consideration of the mathematics classroom to be a learning community rather than a collection of individuals.
Subsequent iterations of the research gradually increased the number of schools, as the teacher educators and researchers (as mentors) deepened the focus on culturally responsive pedagogy and ambitious teaching. A gradual roll out of schools involved in DMIC has resulted in the current involvement of 52 schools. Altogether, approximately 950 teachers are formally included in the project although throughout New Zealand many other schools have informally joined.
The focus of the project has been on developing teacher expertise, pedagogical leadership, what it takes to develop in-class mentoring expertise, and conditions for sustainability and ongoing improvement. The approach views student engagement in collaborative mathematical discourse as an essential component for their learning of mathematics with understanding.
Lifts in student achievement have been part of the success of DMIC, but the more important focus has been on other valued outcomes including an increase in student voice and agency, increased pro-social skills, enhanced mathematical dispositions and the valuing of the mathematics within the home and cultural context.