This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Grant to "scale up" math program

$6 million award to Clements, Sarama to expand use of pre-K curriculum

Published: November 3, 2005

Contributing Editor

The Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $6 million grant to professors in the Graduate School of Education to "scale up" the model for implementing their research-based pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum.

The funding will enable Douglas H. Clements, professor, and Julie A. Sarama, associate professor, in collaboration with assistant professor Jaekyung Lee, to implement their already-successful TRIAD intervention, including the "Building Blocks" pre-K mathematics curriculum and extensive professional development, on a much wider basis to discover its adaptability and impact nationally.

"This grant allows us to truly scale up, that is, to implement the curriculum in more than 120 classrooms, within a large randomized trial design," Clements said. "We can then find out if the 'Building Blocks' curriculum and the TRIAD implementation model work in multiple, varied settings, and to see if their positive effects are sustained longitudinally."

The program name TRIAD is an acronym for "technology-enhanced, research-based instruction, assessment and professional development." Although the TRIAD intervention has been shown to increase math achievement in young children, especially those at risk, Clements said that a larger sampling is needed to see how the program works in a variety of school systems, more distant from the developers.

Further, "effective scale-up considers not only an increase in the number of classrooms, but also increased diversity of settings, increased complexity and the challenges of sustainability," he said. "It uses strategies to achieve broad success and avoid the dilution and pollution that often plagues such efforts."

TRIAD will be introduced to pre-kindergarten teachers and children in two states. In New York, local participating schools include those preschool classrooms in the Buffalo Public Schools and some additional classrooms, such as from the Diocese of Buffalo. In Massachusetts, the Boston Public Schools have signed on to the project. Children from each of more than 120 pre-K classrooms will be followed through their completion of first grade.

"The schools will be those that serve largely low-achieving populations, but with educational settings and racial/ethnic and socioeconomic compositions of students that vary across the board," Sarama said.

The project will help establish UB as a leader in determining how to successfully bring large educational projects to full scale as will benefit the continued study of education interventions, Sarama noted.

"We believe we can increase knowledge of scaling-up by studying the effectiveness of a research-based, mathematics-education intervention implemented in varied pre-kindergarten settings with diverse student populations," Clements said.

Sarama concluded, "Too often, teachers are asked to join the 'next big thing'—with little training, no support and no evidence it supported learning. We and our collaborators will do it right."