There is a report that came out in 2006 that I just discovered. It evaluates the effectiveness of the LSC program. (It was written by Horizon, Inc., under a grant from NSF). I wish I had found it earlier. It can be found here.
This excerpt taken from page 43 of the report is quite telling:
"Other evaluators cited changes in teachers’ beliefs about who can learn science and mathematics. For example, prevailing attitudes among some teachers before LSC workshops included low expectations and the need for ability grouping. LSC professional development helped change these beliefs. Said these teachers about the impact of LSC professional development:
"Before IMP, I felt that there were mathematically unreachable students. I felt that students could not go on to more challenging ideas like algebra, statistics, probability, or trig without basic skills. Fortunately, with my IMP training, I have a different feeling about students. I strongly believe in access to mathematics for all. (Teacher, 6–12 mathematics LSC)"
The above quote from a teacher (in italics) is amazing. Before this teacher started using IMP, he/she felt that basic skills were necessary in order to proceed in mathematics. After IMP, which essentially avoids content whenever possible, he/she saw the light. Yes, wonderful things happen when you pretend that content doesn't matter, and that higher order thinking skills occur just by giving students "authentic" problems without the bother of all those and boring drills and instruction. They are able to reach for the stars. Unfortunately they do so by standing on a two legged stool. But NSF has done its duty and the people who wrote this report have confirmed what NSF always knew: Their reform math programs are an unparalleled success.
The only thing this report lacks is a chorus line kick and the ritual singing of Kumbayaa.