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IES Grant

Title: Math for All: Assessing the Efficacy of a Professional Development Program for Elementary School Teachers
Center: NCER Year: 2014
Principal Investigator: Moeller, Babette Awardee: Education Development Center, Inc.
Program: Effective Teachers and Effective Teaching      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2014–6/30/2018) Award Amount: $3,499,692
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A140488
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Barbara Dubitsky (Bank Street College of Education), John Hitchcock (Indiana University), Ellen B. Meier (Teacher's College, Columbia University), and Teresa Duncan (ICF International)

Purpose: Teachers often are not adequately prepared to implement standards-based mathematics instruction with the heterogeneous groups of students that are being served in general education classrooms, including students with disabilities and students with different capabilities and needs. A small number of professional development (PD) interventions integrate instruction about how to differentiate instruction with learning about mathematics content; however, rigorous evaluation on larger scale implementation of these interventions has been limited. Research about one of these interventions, Math for All (MFA), has demonstrated the feasibility of its implementation in a variety of different school districts, its promise for improving teachers’ knowledge, skills, and classroom practices, and students’ learning outcomes, and the possibility that staff developers other than the developers can implement the program with fidelity. In this efficacy project, researchers will conduct a clustered randomized controlled trial of the effect of the Math for All (MFA) intervention on teacher outcomes (i.e., knowledge, skill, and classroom practice) and student outcomes (i.e., academic achievement in mathematics and efficacy).

Project Activities: The research team will implement the MFA intervention, which consists of five one-day workshops and classroom-based assignments, providing a total of 50 hours of PD over one school year. Researchers will assess teacher and student performance both at baseline and after completion of the PD to assess the impacts of MFA. Outcome data on teacher knowledge and skills will be collected during fall and spring of the year the PD is implemented. Data on classroom practices and student achievement will be conducted in fall and spring of the year following the implementation of the PD. Researchers will use quantitative methods to assess the impact of the MFA program on teachers and students, and qualitative methods to gain a deeper understanding of the implementation of the intervention.

Products: The products of this project will be evidence of the efficacy of the Math for All (MFA) intervention for fourth- and fifth-grade students. The project will also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in schools in Chicago, Illinois.

Sample: The participants in this study include 256 fourth- and fifth-grade general and special education teachers and their 6,400 students across 32 elementary schools. The public school system from which this sample will be drawn serves a student population of Latino or Hispanic (44%), African American (42%), white (9%), Asian/Pacific Islander (3%), and Native American (0.4%) descent. Eighty-seven percent of students come from low-income families, and 13% have disabilities.

Intervention: The intervention in this project consists of five one-day workshops and classroom-based assignments, providing a total of 50 hours of PD over one school year. The program uses video cases and a lesson-study approach to engage general and special education teachers in collaborative lesson planning to make standards-based mathematics lessons accessible to various kinds of learners. The intervention was originally intended for teachers of students with disabilities, but all students are thought to benefit from instruction individualized to their specific learning needs.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will randomly assign 16 schools to participate in the intervention, in which teachers in those schools will receive MFA and 16 schools to the control condition. Researchers will assess teacher and student performance both at baseline and after completion of the PD to assess the impacts of MFA. Outcome data on teacher knowledge and skills will be collected during fall and spring of the year the PD is implemented. Data on classroom practices and student achievement will be conducted in fall and spring of the year following the implementation of the PD. Researchers will use quantitative methods to assess the impact of the MFA program on teachers and students, and qualitative methods to gain a deeper understanding of the implementation of the intervention.

Control Condition: In the schools assigned to the control condition, teachers receive business-as-usual PD offered through Chicago Public Schools.

Key Measures: Researchers will collect demographic data to assess the comparability of the two groups, and qualitative data to explore how school, teacher, student, and other variables might influence the outcomes of the study. Teacher outcome measures include teacher mathematical knowledge for teaching (Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, or MKT), knowledge about individual students and instructional strategies, beliefs, attitudes, and classroom practice (Mathematical Quality of Instruction; instructional logs; Quality of Math Instruction, or QMI). Student outcome measures include student math knowledge as determined by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and self-efficacy in math.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will examine the impact of MFA on teacher knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and practice using a two-level model with teachers nested in school. A three-level model (students, classrooms, schools) will be used to examine the impact of MFA on student math knowledge and self-efficacy in math with the treatment indicator at the school level, as this is the level of both random assignment and treatment delivery.


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