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IES Grant

Title: Math SPIRAL: Specialized Intervention to Reach All Learners
Center: NCSER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Powell, Sarah Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (1/1/2022–12/31/2025) Award Amount: $2,978,746
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R324X220024

School District Partner: Austin Independent School District

Purpose: The goal of this project is to conduct an initial evaluation of Math SPIRAL (Specialized Intervention to Reach All Learners), an educator-provided mathematics intervention for students in grades 4 and 5. In this project, support will be provided to educators in a large urban school district to teach math to small groups of students identified as needing intervention through state achievement testing. In 2021, the percentage of students in the district who required small-group math intervention increased 24% at grade 3 and 23% at grade 4 compared to those in 2019. Because of Texas legislation mandating small-group math intervention for students identified through the test, educators in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) must provide specialized math intervention to a large percentage of students for the next few years. To do this, these educators will need an appropriate curriculum with relevant professional development (PD) and coaching to support them. This study will examine the impacts of this educator-implemented curriculum, Math SPIRAL, on the mathematics skills of fourth and fifth grade students identified as with or at risk for math disabilities through the previous year's state mathematics assessment.

Project Activities: In this project, the research team will use a regression discontinuity design to examine the impact of Math SPIRAL with two cohorts of educators on student outcomes. While receiving PD and coaching, educators will teach math in small groups of students identified as needing math intervention.

Products: The primary product of this project will be evidence of the estimated effects of Math SPIRAL on fourth and fifth grade students who are struggling to meet grade level math standards. The project will also result in publicly available professional development materials, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations as well as products that support the use of evidence from this project for education stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in elementary schools in a large, urban school district in Texas.

Sample: The sample will include approximately 100 educators who will provide Math SPIRAL to approximately 1,000–1,500 of their fourth and fifth grade students identified as being with or at risk for a disability by scoring in the "Did Not Meet Grade Level" performance category on the previous year's STAAR (State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness) Mathematics state exam. Approximately 500–750 students in the control group who scored just above the cutoff for that performance category will also participate.

Intervention: The Math SPIRAL intervention includes educator participation in five PD sessions focused on (a) implementation of an evidence-based word-problem intervention, Pirate Math Equation Quest(developed through IES funding); (b) use of six evidence-based recommendations for students who struggle with math (systematic instruction, math language, representations, number lines, word problems, and fluency building); (c) implementation of the Instructional Routines for TEKS Mathematics Intervention, designed to address foundational mathematics knowledge for grade-level content according to the Texas state mathematics standards; (d) use of culturally responsive mathematics practices; and (e) use of data-based decision making with a focus on using materials from the National Center on Intensive Intervention's Intensive Intervention in Mathematicscourse. Educators participate in both in-person and on-demand PD, followed by observations and coaching throughout the school year to improve their implementation of the intervention. Students identified as needing intervention through the state mathematics assessment receive this high-quality mathematics instruction in small groups.

Research Design and Methods: Math SPIRAL will be evaluated using a regression discontinuity design study. Students who scored at the "Did Not Meet Grade Level" performance category on the STAAR Mathematicsexam will receive Math SPIRAL and those who scored in the next higher performance category, "Approaches Grade Level," will be in the comparison group. Researchers will compare increases in math performance of Math SPIRAL students to those who did not participate in the intervention. They will also measure increases on educator outcomes each year of the study, including frequency and understanding of data-based decision making and knowledge of mathematics for teaching. Follow-up testing will be conducted for both groups 1 and 2 years after participation in the study.

Control Condition: The comparison students are those who scored in the "Approaches Grade Level" performance category on the previous year's STAAR Mathematics exam, one level above the "Did Not Meet Grade Level" performance category.

Key Measures: Student mathematics outcomes will be assessed using the Stanford Achievement Test-10 Mathematics Procedures and Mathematics Problem Solving subtests and the Test of Mathematical Abilities-3 Mathematical Symbols and Concepts, Computation, and Problem Solving subtests. In addition, student performance on the STAAR Mathematics state assessment will determine whether their scoring category changes. Outcome data for teachers will be collected through a researcher-developed measure of teacher instructional practices and two subtests from the Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching assessment.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use multilevel regression discontinuity models to determine whether participation in Math SPIRAL was effective for students with or at risk for disabilities compared to students who did not participate. Changes in educator outcomes for those receiving Math SPIRAL PD will be analyzed by comparing teachers with 1, 2, and 3 years of participation.

Cost Analysis: The ingredients method will be used to determine the cost of the resources needed to implement the Math SPIRAL intervention as well as the cost per student and per educator. A cost effectiveness ratio will be used with the effect size for 1 year of participation in SPIRAL.

Related IES Projects: Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations to Promote Word-Problem Performance Among Students with Mathematics Difficulty (R324150078)