WestEd Wins U.S. Department of Education i3 Grant To Improve Early Math
Raising Math Skills in High-Needs Preschoolers and Kindergarteners Can Help Close Overall Academic Achievement Gaps
(11/15/2012) San Francisco, California—The WestEd Math Readiness project won an Investing in Innovation (i3) Validation grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study the effectiveness of using an innovative early math program on a statewide scale in California.
This five-year, $15 million study will examine whether schools can help socioeconomically disadvantaged children become ready to learn challenging Common Core State Mathematics Standards by the end of kindergarten, and thus close math achievement gaps related to socioeconomic disparities.
The study will also track the lasting impacts of an effective math program to determine whether it results in later increases in overall school achievement.
The grant award is contingent upon raising matching funds from the private sector.
"Recent research has shown that students' mathematical knowledge in kindergarten is the strongest predictor of general academic achievement in elementary school," says Prentice Starkey, Senior Project Director at WestEd and Co-Director of this study.
Starkey adds, "The Common Core Math Standards are designed to accelerate math achievement by U.S. students. An initial challenge schools face is ensuring that the vast majority of younger students learn these higher standards at grade level—beginning in kindergarten. Our study is designed to help California schools give young students a strong start in math."
Approximately 37,800 students in public pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs statewide will receive a high-quality math program from their teachers and parents over a two-year period.
Children in both the study and control groups will be assessed on math knowledge, reading, social skills, and self-regulation during pre-K, kindergarten, and grade 1.
Regional training networks will be established in Northern and Southern California to increase teacher training capacity in early math across the state.
Researchers will collect data on the classroom math practices of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers to determine whether the study's professional development component impacts teacher practices and parental support at home for math.
WestEd is conducting this study in partnership with the University of Oregon, Westat, and the California STEM Learning Network, the latter a consortium of school districts throughout California.
In this latest round of i3 grants, WestEd also won a $2.86 million Development grant for creating online professional development to increase academic literacy skills in science education. In 2010, WestEd won an i3 Validation grant for the agency's Reading Apprenticeship model of literacy professional development.
WestEd, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency, works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. WestEd has 16 offices nationwide, from Washington and Boston to Arizona and California. Its corporate headquarters are in San Francisco. More information about WestEd is available at WestEd.org.