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IES Grant

Title: Project AIM: Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules for Middle School Students with Mathematics Difficulties
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Bryant, Diane Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2020) Award Amount: $3,216,539
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A160042

Co-Principal Investigators: Greg Roberts and Brian Bryant

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of Tier II Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules (Project AIM) designed to improve mathematics achievement for sixth- and seventh-grade students with difficulties in mathematics. Student success in Algebra I has been linked to greater ability to be successful at the post-secondary level and to garner higher-wage jobs. There is a critical need to ensure middle school students with mathematics difficulties are better prepared for Algebra I. However, more research is needed on how to prepare these students for Algebra I through Tier II intervention. This project seeks to fill this research gap by studying the efficacy of Project AIM Tier II intervention modules for improving mathematics achievement for sixth- and seventh-grade students with mathematics difficulties.

Project Activities: The researchers will test the impact of a previously developed Tier II intervention for students in sixth and seventh grade with mathematics difficulties using a randomized controlled trial. Teachers implementing the intervention will receive training, technical assistance through coaching, and ongoing feedback. The researchers will examine the impact of the intervention on student mathematics performance as well as determine whether treatment dosage mediates the effect and/or student characteristics moderate the effect.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the Project AIM Tier II Intervention for sixth- and seventh-grade students with mathematics difficulties, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will be conducted in middle schools in Texas.

Sample: The project will involve approximately 10 middle schools (within three school districts) with 1,920 seventh-grade students in Years 1 and 2 and 1,920 sixth-grade students in Year 3 and 4, for a total of up to 3,840 students and their mathematics intervention teachers (approximately 20 intervention and 20 control teachers expected per year). Students are identified as eligible to participate based on their prior year performance on the state mathematics assessment.

Intervention: Project AIM Tier II intervention includes 7 modules with 15 lessons that develop conceptual, strategic, and procedural knowledge and address learning difficulties of students. Three times a week, for 5 weeks, students receive a 40-minute lesson. The lessons cover an in-depth focus on rational numbers, explicit and systematic instruction that includes models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review. Teachers receive professional development, coaching, and feedback following student assessment on student misconceptions.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a randomized control trial design to compare the outcomes of students in the intervention group to students in the business–as-usual comparison group. In Years 1 and 2, the study will focus on seventh-grade students and in Years 3 and 4, to the study will focus on sixth-grade students. For both grades, the first year of the study involves implementation of the intervention and analysis of the initial impacts and the second year involves follow-up data collection to determine whether the effects are maintained. The researchers will also conduct mediation analyses to determine the mediation effect of treatment dosage (i.e., adherence to intervention program-specific elements) and additional analyses to determine how learner characteristics (e.g., prior achievement) moderate efficacy.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition receive business-as-usual instruction.

Key Measures: Student outcome measures will include proximal measures for progress monitoring (Trying it on Your Own completed at the end of each lesson) and summative distal measures that include the following: the Group Mathematics Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GMADE), the easyCBM, and the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. There are several fidelity of implementation measures developed by the research team that will be used: fidelity of professional development form, fidelity of assessment procedures for administration of the easyCBM and the GMADE, fidelity of implementation measure for the teachers providing the Tier II intervention, and fidelity of implementation of effective instruction measure for both intervention and comparison teachers. In addition, a social validity rating scale will be used to gather information on perceptions about the intervention materials from both the intervention teachers and students.

Data Analytic Strategy: A multi-group, multilevel regression model will be used to determine the effects of the Project AIM modules on student performance for students in the intervention group compared to students in the business-as-usual comparison group. A multi-group, multilevel explanatory item response model will be used to identify items for which the students in the intervention and business-as-usual groups differ. To determine whether treatment dosage of program-specific elements (in treatment and business-as-usual classrooms) mediates the effect of the intervention assignment on student outcomes, mediation models will be fit using bias-corrected resampling (or bootstrapping).

Related IES Project: Project AIM: Algebra-readiness Intervention Modules for At-Risk Students (R324A120364)


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Bryant, D. P., and Bryant, B. R. (2016). Intensifying Intervention for Students with Persistent and Severe Mathematics Difficulties. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 49(2): 93–95. doi:10.1177/0040059916676794

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