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IES Grant

Title: Refining and Extending a Number Sense Screener for Identifying Children at Risk for Mathematical Difficulties in School
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Jordan, Nancy Awardee: University of Delaware
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2018) Award Amount: $1,598,792
Goal: Measurement Award Number: R305A150545
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Alice Klein (WestEd)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to refine, extend, and validate a number sense screener for students from prekindergarten through Grade 1. Number sense—the knowledge of number, number relations, and number operations—is highly predictive of later math success and underlies many difficulties students have in mathematics. Being able to identify students who have difficulties with number sense early in development is critical to providing educational interventions that promote readiness and success in school mathematics. In this project, researchers will adapt a previously developed version of a kindergarten number sense screener used by teachers in classroom settings and extend it downward through prekindergarten and upward through first grade.

Project Activities: The researchers will develop and validate the Screener for Early Number Sense (SENS) assessment. This assessment will help teachers identify where students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1 need targeted instruction in the domains of number, number relations, and number operations.

Products: Researchers will produce a number sense screener designed for use with students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1. In addition, researchers will produce an online score report tool and technical manual for teachers and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Development and validation of the assessment will occur in two large, urban school districts in Northern California. The schools serve a socioeconomic and ethnically diverse population of students.

>Sample: Students from prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1 will participate in the reliability and validity studies. During Year 2, the study will include 450 students evenly distributed across the 3 grade levels. During Year 3, the study will include 200 students at prekindergarten, 300 at kindergarten, and 200 at Grade 1. During Year 4, the sample will include 600 students distributed across the 3 grade levels. Approximately half of the students will be from low-income families and half from middle-income families.

Assessment: The Screener for Early Number Sense (SENS) will have three vertically scaled forms for prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1. Each form will have 30 items that are administered one-on-one to a student and is expected to take about 20 minutes per child to complete. The SENS will provide opportunities for teachers to evaluate students' skills in different contexts and to observe and record students' modeling, counting, and decomposition strategies, especially on number operation tasks. An online score report tool will also help teachers at each grade level identify where children need targeted instruction in the domains of number, number relations, and number operations

Research Design and Methods: During Year 1, an initial set of 140 items will be developed and reviewed by an expert panel. During Year 2, researchers will field test the items developed in Year 1 using 450 students across prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1. Based on the results from the first field test, researchers will reduce the number of items to 90 across the 3 grade levels. During Year 3, the researchers will conduct a second field test of the 90 assessment items with 200 students at prekindergarten, 300 at kindergarten, and 200 at Grade 1. The end product of Year 3 will be the final version of the SENS, with each grade level assessment having 30 items. The prekindergarten screener will have 20 unique items and 10 items linked to the kindergarten assessment. The kindergarten screener will have 10 unique items, 10 items linked to the prekindergarten assessment, and 10 items linked to the Grade 1 assessment. The Grade 1 screener will have 20 unique items and 10 items linked to the kindergarten assessment.

During Year 4, the researchers will conduct a test-retest reliability study and a predictive validity study. The reliability study will include 450 students across the 3 grade levels. The SENS will be administered to students and, after 2 weeks, they will be retested on the corresponding SENS instrument again. The predictive validity study will also include 450 students. These students will be drawn from the sample that participated in the Year 3 field test when they were in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1. For the predictive validity study, these students will be followed longitudinally for 1 year when they are in kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2, respectively. The same sample of students at kindergarten and Grade 1 will participate in both the reliability and validity studies; thus, a total of 600 students will participate in the 2 component studies of Year 4. Students will be assessed on the Test of Early Mathematics Ability (TEMA-3) to establish evidence of predictive validity of the SENS.

In addition, during Year 4, researchers will develop an online score report tool and technical manual to help teachers implement the assessment in their classrooms and help teachers interpret how individual children perform on the SENS overall and on the three subdomains of the SENS (i.e., number, number relations, and number operations). The tool will also provide suggested intervention activities based on children's performance on the SENS. A sample of 30 teachers across prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grade 1 will use the SENS and the accompanying online score report tool with a sample of students in their classrooms to ensure that the screener is clear and easy to administer.

Control Condition: There is no control condition for this project.

Key Measures: Key student outcome measures include the Test of Early Mathematics Ability (TEMA-3) to measure predictive validity.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data will be analyzed using classical item analyses, differential item functioning analyses, confirmatory factor analyses, and Rasch item response theory analyses.


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