WWC review of this study

Scaling up the implementation of a pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum: The Building Blocks curriculum.

Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2006, June). Paper presented at the Institute of Education Sciences Research Conference, Washington, D. C.

  • Randomized controlled trial
    , grade

Reviewed: July 2007

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Early Mathematics Assessment

Building Blocks for Math/SRA Real Math Building Blocks vs. Business as usual


Preschool children;
202 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

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    New York


The study was conducted in Head Start and state-funded preschool programs in New York State.

Study sample

Teachers were randomly assigned to conditions in two separate steps. Twenty-four teachers from preschool programs serving low-income children were randomly assigned to two intervention groups (Building Blocks for Math or Pre-K Mathematics) or a business-as-usual comparison group. Consequently there were a total of 14 teachers in the Building Blocks for Math group and 14 teachers in the business-as-usual comparison group. Eight preschool-age children were randomly selected from each classroom for assessment (N = 224). After attrition, the final sample included 28 teachers and 202 children (14 teachers and 101 children in the Building Blocks for Math group; 14 teachers and 101 children in the business-as-usual comparison group).

Intervention Group

Children in the Building Blocks for Math intervention condition used the Building Blocks for Math curriculum in 10- to 15-minute small-group (4–6 children) math activities weekly. These children also participated in 5- to 15-minute whole-group math activities four times a week and 5- to 10-minute computer activities (DLM Express) twice a week. Related family activities were sent home weekly. The intervention lasted for 26 weeks, and intervention teachers maintained their daily activities and schedule while inserting mathematics activities at appropriate times during the day.

Comparison Group

Children in the business-as-usual comparison group participated in their regular daily activities and schedule, with emphasis on small groups and computer activities. These included city-wide math activities, Creative Curriculum, Montessori math activities, or “home-grown” math materials based on state standards.

Outcome descriptions

The primary outcome domain assessed was math and it was measured with the Early Mathematics Assessment (see Appendix A2 for a more detailed description of the outcome measure). The study authors also assessed implementation fidelity with the Fidelity of Implementation measure and the quality of the mathematics environment using the Classroom Observation of Early Mathematics Environment and Teaching. This WWC review does not include the results from these observations in this WWC review.

Support for implementation

Professional development activities for teachers in the Building Blocks for Math group consisted of four days of training, a monthly two-hour class, and monthly in-class coaching by project staff. Teacher training covered a number of topics such as supporting mathematical development in the classroom, recognizing and supporting mathematics throughout the day, setting up mathematics learning centers, teaching with computers, small-group activities, and supporting mathematical development in the home. Learning trajectories were emphasized in the Building Blocks for Math training via a web-based application called Building Blocks Learning Trajectories.


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