The study took place in 32 general education kindergarten classrooms (16 intervention and 16 control classrooms) in 16 schools in urban Texas school districts.
All students in the study were identified as having difficulties in mathematics. The sample contained slightly more males than females (56 versus 42 percent, respectively). Almost half (45 percent) were Hispanic, 37 were white, and 14 percent were black. The majority (63 percent) received free or reduced price lunch, and 21 percent were limited English proficient or English language learners.
The intervention was conducted by the classroom teachers during small group instruction time (groups of 3-4 students). The intervention lasted 25-28 minutes per day, 4 days a week, for 23 weeks. This was a supplemental intervention that was provided in addition to normal mathematics classroom time. The intervention covered early numeracy concepts and skills, such as identifying and writing numerals, counting, ordering and comparing quantities, making groups, and solving simple change problems. The intervention included visual representations to support learning of concepts, basic mathematic operations, and proprieties like the commutative or associate properties. For instance, students used manipulatives (like connecting cubes, base-10 materials), pictorial representations (like 10 frames, dot configurations, place-value models), and symbolic representations. The intervention also included an emphasis on vocabulary development, and teachers were provided a glossary of key terms to teach. Throughout the lessons, teachers used explicit instruction techniques, like modeling, guided practice, monitoring student progress during independent practice, correcting errors, providing examples, reviewing concepts, and allowing students time to practice with visual representations. At the end of each lesson, the teacher monitored student progress by having students answer four questions on the content of that lesson. Students that answered 3 of 4 questions correctly were considered to have met the objectives of the lesson.
The comparison condition was conducted by classroom teachers. The exact content and strategies covered in each classroom differed by school, but all classrooms focused on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills content around numbers and operations, such as counting forward and backward from 0 to 20, reading and writing numbers from 0 to 20, recognizing quantities. Most of the comparison group teachers did provide additional supportive instruction, sometimes with explicit instruction or inquiry-based instruction. However, the type of instruction varied by teacher. Most teachers did not use progress monitoring to assess student learning.
Support for implementation
All intervention group teachers and a school liaison (guidance counselor, lead teacher, etc.) from each school attended a one-day training on the lessons and materials, which included a video example of implementation and time to practice implementation with feedback from the trainers. The teachers also had the materials for implementation, such as student booklets. The training also covered implementation of the data collection instruments as the teachers had to administer them to their students. During implementation, the study team provided the intervention group teachers with ongoing support including webcasts, newsletters. A member of the study team visited the teachers twice during the school year and provided coaching and support as needed.
The school liaisons subsequently trained the control group teachers on how to administer the tests.