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IES Grant

Title: A Randomized Control Trial of a Tier 2 Sixth Grade Mathematics Intervention
Center: NCSER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Clarke, Ben Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2023 – 06/30/2028) Award Amount: $3,799,999
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R324A230007

Co-Principal Investigators: Ketterlin Geller, Leanne; Nelson, Gena; Kosty, Derek; Smolkowski, Keith

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Promoting Algebra Readiness (PAR) intervention, a Tier 2 mathematics intervention. Preliminary evidence has shown that PAR increases the mathematics achievement of sixth grade students with mathematics difficulties (MD). In this project, the research team will examine the impact of PAR on students identified as with MLD (mathematics learning disabilities) or MD, measuring the immediate and long-term student mathematics outcomes and exploring whether student and interventionist characteristics and implementation factors are associated with differential response to the PAR intervention. The results are expected to provide specific insight into how PAR works, including for whom and under what conditions, as well as determine factors that may be associated with implementation and scalability of the intervention.

Project Activities: The project will use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test the efficacy of PAR for improving mathematics outcomes for students with MLD/MD. Data will be collected on a range of student, interventionist, and implementation variables and analyzed to provide evidence of the efficacy of the PAR intervention for improving student outcomes in mathematics as well as the costs and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Products: This project will result in evidence of the efficacy of the PAR intervention for improving the mathematics achievement of sixth grade students with MLD/MD and whether student and interventionist factors influence this effect. Products will also include access to the final dataset, peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will be conducted in school districts in Texas and Idaho.

Sample: Approximately 44 schools and 30 sixth grade students identified as MLD or MD, and one or more interventionists (serving 5–10 students) per school, will participate in the study. Interventionists may be teachers or other instructional school personnel, as identified by the district. The research sample will be drawn from a population of students from economically and racially diverse communities.

Intervention: The PAR intervention is designed to be delivered as a Tier 2 supplementary intervention within a multi-tier systems of support model for sixth grade students with or at risk for MD. PAR focuses on building students' algebraic readiness by teaching fraction concepts and skills identified in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. PAR is comprised of 93 lessons across four intervention strands: (1) Multiplication and Division of Whole Numbers, (2) Fractions as Numbers, (3) Addition and Subtraction of Fractions, and (4) Multiplication and Division of Fractions. Trained interventionists will deliver PAR in small groups of 5–10 students, for approximately 45 minutes, five days per week beginning in the fall and continuing through the spring of the school year.

Research Design and Methods: Using an RCT across four cohorts, the research team will randomly assign students to the treatment or control condition, blocking by school. They will conduct research in Idaho during years 1 and 2 (first two cohorts) and in Texas during years 3 and 4 (remaining cohorts). In years 2-5, delayed post-test data will be collected with each cohort in seventh grade to examine long-term impacts. In year 5, researchers will analyze the data to examine the immediate and long-term impacts of PAR on student mathematics outcomes and explore student- and interventionist-level moderators and implementation factors associated with differential response to the PAR intervention.

Control Condition: The students in the business-as-usual control group will experience standard sixth grade mathematics instruction.

Key Measures: Algebra Readiness Progress Monitoring will be used to determine students' eligibility to participate in the study (students scoring below the 40th percentile for their school). Student math outcomes will be assessed using a researcher-developed measure of fraction number line estimation and the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test. Potential student-level moderators will be measured in a variety of ways. Working memory will be measured by the Digit-Span Backward assessment. Attentional behavior will be assessed using the Child Behavior Rating Scale. The Implicit Theories of Math Ability measure will be used to assess (a) self-efficacy for mathematics learning, (b) growth mindset in mathematics, and (c) perceived value of learning mathematics. For teacher/interventionist moderators, pedagogical content knowledge will be measured using the Mathematics Content and Pedagogical Knowledge measure. Interventionist beliefs and self-efficacy for teaching mathematics will be assessed using the Star Measures for Teachers. Fidelity of implementation and quality of instructional interactions will be measured by observations. Key variables of instruction will be documented through instructional logs. Data on interventionist and student demographics will also be collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: The efficacy of PAR will be determined using partially nested multilevel models that account for intervention students nested within instructional groups and non-nested control students. Researchers will examine differential response to PAR using an extension of the prior analysis that includes interaction effects with student- and interventionist-level moderators. They will use random coefficient analysis to examine the effects of implementation differences on student outcomes.–

Cost Analysis: Researchers will collect all cost information related to program implementation and analyze all the expected initial costs as well as costs for the reasonable lifespan of the program. A cost-effectiveness analysis will combine these costs with the intervention effect for key outcomes, such as mathematics achievement, to calculate the incremental cost effectiveness ratio for PAR relative to the BAU control condition.

Related Projects: Promoting Algebra Readiness: Developing a Strategic Intervention On Rational Number Concepts (Project PAR) (R324A120115)