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IES Grant

Title: Project AIM: Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules for At-Risk Students
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Bryant, Diane Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 07/01/2012-06/30/2015 Award Amount: $1,436,410
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A120364

Purpose: Success in algebra courses has been linked to greater success at the secondary and postsecondary levels and higher-wage jobs. Algebra competence, however, is a particular concern for students with or at risk for mathematics disabilities. These students are participating in general education mathematics courses in growing numbers and facing curriculum standards and graduation requirements that demand mastery of algebra. These students continue to demonstrate poor mathematics achievement that is persistent and pervasive, and lack the foundational mathematics skills critical to succeeding in algebra courses.

The purpose of this project is to develop two sets of instructional modules, Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules, focusing on mathematics concepts and skills that are important for success in algebra. One set of modules will be developed for use in grade 6 and one for grade 7. Both sets of modules will focus on rational numbers; ratio and proportional relationships; expressions and equations; and graphing. Each module will be tailored to grade-level content and standards. The modules are intended to be used as supplemental interventions in a tiered service delivery model for students with or at risk for mathematics disabilities.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct a series of studies to develop and assess the promise of the algebra modules. The first two years of the project will involve small learning trials and feasibility studies to assess student and teacher satisfaction and responsiveness to the modules and to refine the modules. Five pilot studies will be conducted in each grade during the final year of the project. The studies will examine the potential promise of the individual modules and the complete set of modules for improving students' mathematics outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed set of Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in middle schools in Missouri and Texas.

Sample: Approximately 800 sixth and seventh grade students who score below the 25th percentile on the AIMSweb mathematics assessment will participate over the course of this project. Their classroom teachers will also participate in the development of the intervention.

Intervention: Four intervention modules, containing a series of lessons, will be developed for each grade. They will be developed to focus on students' weak rational number knowledge and rational number sense and to incorporate instructional practices and design principles that have evidence for improving mathematics outcomes for students with mathematics disabilities. The four modules will address rational numbers; ratio and proportional relationships; expressions and equations; and graphing. Instructional design principles embedded in the modules will include optimizing the instructional sequence, pre-teaching prerequisite knowledge, appropriate sequencing of instructional examples, and providing ample opportunities for practice and review to promote procedural fluency. Each module is intended to be taught for 3 days per week for 6 weeks.

Research Design and Methods: During the first year of the project, the team will develop the modules and module lessons. Teachers will implement initial versions of the lessons, and the research team will refine them based on student performance, classroom observations, and teacher feedback. During the second year, the modules will be implemented individually and as a group to determine whether they can be feasibly implemented in authentic education delivery settings. Five pilot studies, incorporating quasi-experimental designs, will be conducted in the final year of the project. The studies will examine the potential promise of the individual modules and the complete set of modules for improving students' mathematics outcomes.

Control Condition: A business-as-usual control group will be included in the pilot study with students receiving instruction and intervention typically provided by their schools.

Key Measures: A series of proximal and distal measures will be used to examine the promise of the Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules. Proximal measures include easyCBM Mathematics and daily checks to assess responsiveness to instruction. Distal measures include the Revised Mathematics Computation and Mathematics Concepts and Applications subtests of AIMSweb and state assessments. The researchers will also use teacher and student surveys, focus groups, and fidelity of implementation observations to inform revisions to the intervention.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data will be analyzed using analysis of covariance to determine the promise of the Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules for improving performance on the AIMSweb and easyCBM measures and compare outcomes for students who received the intervention to those who received typical instruction provided by the school. Descriptive analyses of data from teacher surveys, classroom observations, and student mathematics performance will be used to revise the modules and determine their feasibility.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Bryant, D. P., & Bryant, B. R. (2016). Intensifying Intervention for Students With Persistent and Severe Mathematics Difficulties. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 49(2), 93–95.

Dougherty, B., Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., and Shin, M. (2016). Helping Students With Mathematics Difficulties Understand Ratios and Proportions. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 49(2): 95–105. doi:10.1177/0040059916674897 Full text

Dougherty, B., Bryant, D.P., Bryant, B.R., Darrough, R.R., and Pfannenstiel, K.H. (2015). Developing Concepts and Generalizations to Build Algebraic Thinking: The Reversibility, Flexibility, and Generalization Approach. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(5): 273–28. doi:10.1177/1053451214560892 Full text

Pfannenstiel, K. H., Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Porterfield, J. A. (2015). Cognitive strategy instruction for teaching word problems to primary-level struggling students. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(5), 291–296.

Shin, M. and Bryant, D. P. (2015). Fraction Interventions for Students Struggling to Learn Mathematics: A Research Synthesis. Remedial and Special Education, 36(6): 374–387. doi:10.1177/0741932515572910 Full text