Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary Math Curricula: Findings for First and Second Graders
According to a national evaluation of four math curricula, among first graders, the results favored Math Expressions over both Investigations and SFAW, but not over Saxon. Among second graders, the results favored Math Expressions and Saxon over SFAW, but not over Investigations.
The four curricula studied include: (1) Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, (2) Math Expressions, (3) Saxon Math, and (4) Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics (SFAW).
The evaluation compared the relative effects, including differences in teacher training, instructional strategies, content coverage, and materials, of these four curricula on the math achievement of first and second graders in 110 schools in 12 participating districts in 10 states. Schools were randomly assigned within each district to implement one of the four curricula in first and second grade. After one year, this study found significant impacts on student achievement of two curricula relative to the other two curricula in the study.
- The average math achievement of first graders in schools using Math Expressions was higher than in schools using Investigations and SFAW, but not in schools using Saxon. The difference is equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 54th percentile.
- The average math test score for second graders in schools using Math Expressions and in schools using Saxon was higher than that in schools using SFAW, but not in schools using Investigations. The differences are equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 55th and 57th percentile, respectively. Based on the curriculum requirements, Saxon teachers reported spending an average of one hour more on math instruction per week than teachers using other curricula, largely due to the extensive daily routines included in the Saxon curricula.
- Almost all teachers reported using their assigned curriculum and, based on classroom observations, the instructional approaches of teachers in the four curriculum groups differed as expected. Math Expressions blended student-centered and teacher-directed approaches to math instruction, while student-centered instruction and peer collaboration were highest in Investigations classrooms, and teacher-directed instruction was highest in Saxon classrooms.
The evaluation was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and released by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within the Institute of Education Sciences.
For first report visit: http://ies.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=NCEE20094052.
View, download, and print the report as a PDF file (2.3 MB)
View, download, and print the executive summary as a PDF file (373 KB)
View, download, and print the study snapshot as a PDF file (696 KB)