WWC review of this study

Effects of a Preschool Mathematics Curriculum: Summative Research on the "Building Blocks" Project [Building Blocks vs. business as usual]

Clements, Douglas H.; Sarama, Julie (2007). Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, v38 n2 p136-163 Mar 2007. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ757034

  • 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

Building Blocks Assessment (BBA) of Early Mathematics, PreK-K: Geometry section

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


4 year olds;
53 students





Building Blocks Assessment (BBA) of Early Mathematics, PreK-K: Number section

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


4 year olds;
61 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.

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%
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    New York
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study took place in one Head Start and one state-funded preschool program in New York State.

Study sample

Two teachers from a Head Start center and two teachers from a state-funded preschool program were randomly assigned to the Building Blocks for Math group or the business-as-usual comparison group. There were 77 children in the four classrooms; however, nine children left the classrooms during the course of the study. Final analysis samples ranged from 53 to 61 children. The majority of the children were from low-income families. The mean age of the children was 49.9 months, and 49% of the children were female.

Intervention Group

The intervention group used Building Blocks for Math for 25 weeks. Building Blocks for Math includes whole- and small-group activities and games, free-choice learning centers, ideas for integrating mathematics throughout the school day, computer software (DLM Express), and books, game sheets, and manipulatives. Teachers in the state-funded preschool program implemented the curriculum with a high degree of fidelity, whereas teachers in the Head Start center implemented it with a moderate—but adequate—degree of fidelity.

Comparison Group

Children in the business-as-usual comparison group used their typical preschool math curricula and activities over the same 25 weeks. The typical preschool math curriculum used in the Head Start comparison classroom was Creative Curriculum and math activities developed by the program. The state-funded preschool program comparison classroom continued implementing the school’s regular math curriculum.

Outcome descriptions

The primary outcome domain assessed was math, and it was measured with the Number and Geometry sections of the Building Blocks Assessment of Early Mathematics, PreK–K (see Appendix A2 for more detailed descriptions of outcome measures).

Support for implementation

Intervention teachers participated with researchers in a half-day review of curriculum materials. Project staff observed intervention teachers implementing the curriculum and were available to answer questions and discuss implementation issues with teachers as needed.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (n. d.). Effects of a preschool mathematics curriculum: Summary research on the NSF-funded Building Blocks project. University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Retrieved from http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/org/buildingblocks/writings/ Building%20Blocks%20Research%201.pdf.


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