WWC review of this study

Experimental evaluation of the effects of a research-based preschool mathematics curriculum. [Building Blocks vs. business as usual (Creative Curriculum)]

Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2008). American Educational Research Journal, 45(2), 443–494. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ795943

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    201
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: June 2022

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Mathematics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Early Mathematics Assessment (EMA)

Building Blocks vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Study contrast: Building Blocks (BB) vs. BAU/Control;
202 students

61.78

53.22

Yes

 
 
36
 


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.


  • Suburban, Urban
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    New York

Setting

The study was conducted in diverse preschool classrooms in New York State. Some of the early childhood programs served children from low-income households, and other programs served both low- and middle-income children. Participating programs were located in both urban and suburban areas.

Study sample

All the participating children were old enough to enroll in kindergarten the following school year. All classrooms were in an urban setting except the mixed-income classrooms which were in a suburban setting. The urban classrooms (Head Start & state funded) were roughly 30 percent White, 47 to 58 percent Black, and less than 10 percent another race. The mixed-income classrooms were 70 percent White and 30 percent another race or Hispanic of undisclosed race. Head Start, state-funded, and mixed-income classrooms had 97, 63, and 9 percent (respectively) of students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.

Intervention Group

Building Blocks, a supplemental math curriculum, was implemented using small groups of four to six children and whole class instruction. The small-group sessions were usually conducted weekly for ten to fifteen minutes, and whole-group activities were typically conducted four times per week for five to fifteen minutes. Children also participated in computer activities twice per week for ten minutes per session. Letters describing reinforcing activities families could implement were sent home with children weekly. Building Blocks is organized around learning trajectories, regularly returning to topics as children progress to new developmental levels. Teacher had access to a web-based application that described children's learning trajectories and developmental progressions. The curriculum also encouraged teachers to frequently interact with children on their solution strategies, asking questions such as “How did you know?” and “Why?”

Comparison Group

Teachers in the business-as-usual (BAU) comparison classrooms continued using their school’s mathematics activities, which varied according to classroom. Five low-income classrooms used a citywide set of activities and common manipulatives; two other low-income classrooms used Creative Curriculum (Teaching Strategies, 2001); the mixed-income classrooms used homegrown materials based on state standards, three of which employed Montessori mathematics materials.

Support for implementation

Intervention teachers received four days of curriculum implementation training and two-hour refresher classes once every other month. Intervention teachers also received in-class coaching (approximately sixteen hours) from teachers with experience in teaching the intervention curriculum who were trained to be coaches during the summer prior to the start of the study.

Reviewed: December 2013

Does not meet WWC standards


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

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Reviewed: November 2013

Meets WWC standards without reservations


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.


  • Suburban, Urban
  • Race
    Asian
    3%
    Black
    53%
    Other or unknown
    2%
    White
    43%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    12%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    88%
 

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