Enhancing Rational Number Instruction for Students with Math Disabilities and Difficulties: Designing Professional Development for Teachers Who Provide Math Intervention

The project will develop and study a professional development program focused on fraction for interventionists who work with grades four and five students with mathematics disabilities and difficulties.

Full Description: 

The project will develop and study a professional development program focused on fraction for interventionists who work with grades four and five students with mathematics disabilities and difficulties. Mathematics interventions for students with mathematical disabilities are provided by a variety of educators in elementary schools including classroom teachers, special education teachers, mathematics specialists, and paraprofessionals. However, professional development and training to address the needs of students with mathematics disabilities and difficulties varies. This project addresses a need in elementary schools for improved fraction instruction and the professional development for interventionists who work with students. The project would create resources usable by other professional development projects for interventionists. The project will also provide guidance about professional development for other mathematics topics.

The professional development will be focused on fractions concepts, use interactive and hands-on methods for learning, and be relevant because fractions are a critical topic in upper elementary grades. The participants in the student are interventionists who work with grades 4 and 5 students. The project includes a design phase followed by a randomized controlled trial to measure teacher-level outcomes. Measures of instruction, student knowledge and teacher outcomes will be used to understand the promise of the intervention. Interventionist teaching practice and fractions knowledge will be used as the proximal outcomes and will be analyzed using ANCOVAs with the pretest measures serving as the covariates. For distal outcomes related to fourth- and fifth-grade students' fractions achievement, a multi-level model including students and interventionists will be used. As an early stage design and development project, the design is being tested in multiple districts in different states. The project relies on prior research about students' learning of fractions and related teaching approaches. The results should inform professional development for interventionists for students with mathematical disabilities and difficulties. The results also support understanding of professional development that develops teachers' knowledge of content and teaching practice simultaneously.

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