New Study Reveals Voyager Sopris Learning’s TransMath Solution Is Helping Struggling Students Advance, Prepare for Algebra
The study1, “Fractions Intervention for Struggling 5th Grade Students: The Central Role of the Number Line,” was initially presented last fall at the
According to Dr. Woodward, the program is designed intentionally to build proficiency in basic skills and core concepts for struggling students who may be two or more years below grade level, as well as special education students. TransMath begins by solidifying a student’s understanding of operations of whole numbers and concludes with in-depth coverage of pre-algebra and algebraic topics. Key content and problem-solving standards across the intermediate and middle grades are addressed in the program.
“It is gratifying to see the results from the NSF study, which adds to an increasing wealth of evidence supporting how TransMath—through its visual representations, attention to the link between concepts and procedures, as well as how daily problem solving—can make such an impact with struggling students,” Dr. Woodward said. “Most math textbooks move too quickly, don’t provide enough distributed practice, and don’t present the key concepts, such as magnitude in fractions, in a sustained and explicit manner.”
The TransMath curriculum was selected for the NSF study, Dr. Woodward explained, because it provides a balance between teaching conceptual ideas and procedures for solving fraction problems.
“In fact, typical curricula for remedial and special education students rarely attend to the day-to-day structure and content of TransMath,” Dr. Woodward said. “The NSF study demonstrated once again that struggling and special education students can do more than just learn procedures in a rote manner. They are clearly capable of learning and talking about key concepts if given the appropriate balance of concepts, procedures, problem solving, and systematic review.”
The recent NSF study focused on fifth graders in 35 classrooms who were in the 15th to 38th percentile in mathematics. They were randomly assigned to TransMath or control conditions. Students were taught in small groups three to four times a week by retired teachers or math tutors. Each of the 52 lessons for both groups of students lasted approximately 35 minutes, and the topics included concepts that underlie fractions, as well as operations on fractions.
The effects across a range of measures were highly significant, especially in an area of particular concern to researchers: the magnitude or relative size of fractions, according to Dr. Woodward. “The lessons in this level of TransMath relied heavily on well-chosen visual models that helped students see big ideas being taught,” he noted.
Studies conducted in the mid-2000s—including Learning Disabilities Quarterly2 and
Moreover, TransMath meets the “strong” evidence criteria for ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). And the solution has succeeded in districts such as
1. Jayanthi, M., & Schumacher, R. (2017). Intervention in fractions at 5th grade: The central role of the number line. Paper presented at
2. Woodward, J. (2006). Developing automaticity in multiplication facts: Integrating strategy instruction with timed practice drills. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 29, 269-289.
3. Woodward, J., & Brown, C. (2006). Meeting the curricular needs of academically low achieving students in middle grade mathematics.
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Source: Voyager Sopris Learning, Inc.