Early Math Initiative Improves Teacher Confidence and Skills and Has Positive Impact on Local Education Agencies, Evaluation Finds
California education agencies that participated in the California Early Math Initiative’s (CAEMI) professional learning and coaching model reported a positive impact on early childhood educators and agency facilitators. This finding comes from WestEd’s recently released Evaluation Report of the Professional Learning and Coaching Model.
The evaluation’s results show a significant decrease in agency facilitators’ negative feelings toward math and an increase in facilitators’ confidence in their understanding of children’s math development and their math training and coaching skills after participating in the CAEMI.
The 30 participating agencies successfully implemented early math training and coaching with early childhood educators in their local communities. The agencies used a variety of resources and activities offered by the CAEMI to implement a train-the-trainer approach. CAEMI coaches regularly engaged agency facilitators in hands-on, playful learning experiences to build their knowledge of math concepts and to provide activities that support educators and children ages birth through eight years. Local implementation varied based on agencies’ decisions with regard to the number and type of educators engaged, the math content addressed in professional learning and coaching, and the schedule and delivery of professional learning and coaching sessions throughout the year.
While local implementation varied, agencies reported a positive impact on educators. Most agencies reported that educators trained by facilitators deepened their early math knowledge. Educators showed an increased awareness of and confidence in math and improved abilities to implement newly acquired early math teaching practices in their settings.
The facilitators reported challenges in their local implementation, such as limited time, educators’ buy-in, and how to meet diverse educator needs.
“Despite challenges in local implementation, CAEMI’s professional learning and coaching model built system-wide capacity in education agencies to support early math development,” said WestEd’s Early Childhood and Learning Development Director, Osnat Zur. “The overarching goals of the initiative are to elevate math and make it playful and fun for education professionals, families and caregivers, and educators of young children.”
WestEd made the following recommendations for future implementation of the CAEMI:
- Ensure professional learning fully addresses the birth-to-eight age range and provide guidance and resources to promote articulation and continuity in math learning across age groups.
- Deepen the facilitators’ understanding of early math content knowledge, developmental progressions, and teaching skills while engaging them in hands-on, playful math experiences.
- Further tailor the CAEMI professional learning and coaching to participants’ diverse strengths, needs, and backgrounds. For agencies that need higher levels of support, provide additional tools and concrete guidance on planning and implementing local professional learning and coaching.
- Build in additional supports for quality assurance of local implementation, such as observations and review of materials.
- Disseminate the newly developed CAEMI resources more strategically during the CAEMI Phase II.
- Expand the use of the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center as a demonstration site.
Thirty local education agencies across California each invited a team of two to four individuals to participate in the CAEMI professional learning and coaching model, for a total of 91 agency facilitators. The agency facilitators included trainers, coaches, administrators, teachers, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) coordinators. In their roles and agencies, facilitators worked with educators of young children ages birth through eight years.