Supporting Success in Algebra: A Study of the Implementation of Transition to Algebra

The project will research the implementation of Transition to Algebra, a year-long mathematics course for underprepared ninth grade students taken concurrently with Algebra 1 to provide additional support, and its impact on students' attitudes and achievement in mathematics in combination with teachers' instruction and the types of supports teachers need to successfully implement the intervention.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621011
Funding Period: 
Saturday, October 1, 2016 to Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Full Description: 

The project will research the impact and implementation of Transition to Algebra, a year-long mathematics course for underprepared ninth grade students taken concurrently with Algebra 1 to provide additional support. Nationally, there is a need for programs that support students' learning of algebra and that provide research-based resources and models particularly for students in need of additional support. The design of the Transition to Algebra curriculum reflects the idea that students underprepared for Algebra 1 can benefit from very specific help in building the logic of algebra by connecting arithmetic pattern and algebraic structure. The materials feature the use of mental mathematics, puzzles, explorations, and student dialogues to connect arithmetic pattern to algebraic structure. These features should encourage students to expect mathematics ideas to make sense, and to build algebraic habits of mind and problem solving stamina. The research will investigate the effects of the curriculum on students' algebra achievement and their attitudes towards mathematics. The Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The research questions examine the impact of the Transition to Algebra course on students' attitudes and achievement in mathematics in combination with teachers' instruction and the types of supports teachers need to successfully implement the intervention. The project will use a pre-post quasi-experimental design, along with propensity score methods to reduce selection bias threats, to examine the implementation in approximately 35 treatment schools and 35 comparison schools. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected and analyzed to address research questions. The study will also investigate how teachers use and adapt Transition to Algebra materials, and the supports critical to successful implementation. For example, the study will examine whether and how school and district activities such as common planning time, coaching, and other professional development experiences influence the implementation fidelity of the curriculum. Qualitative data will be collected through interviews and classroom observations. Quantitative data will be collected using student and teacher surveys, an algebra readiness assessment, a standardized end-of-course assessment, and students' scores on state tests.