Early Math Collaborative receives $3 million National Science Foundation grant

Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve children’s early mathematics learning in Head Start classrooms throughout Chicago.

The four-year grant will allow the Collaborative to partner with the city’s Department of Family Support Services to narrow the achievement gap by establishing Head Start centers of excellence in mathematics.

Making changes last

“We know through research that students are affected by their teachers’ attitudes toward math,” says professor Jie-Qi Chen, the Collaborative’s principal investigator. “We want to demonstrate the power that mobilizing an entire community has in making a difference to young children.”

The intervention program focuses on the “big ideas of early math” developed by the Collaborative and detailed in a 2014 book for teachers. The approach promotes professional development by concentrating not only on teachers’ content knowledge in math but also on their attitudes and practice surrounding it.

“The biggest challenge of any intervention program is what happens when the project ends,” says Jennifer McCray, director of the Collaborative. “By structuring activities to create positive learning interactions among center staff and directors, and with families, we hope to create communities that foster math learning even after our work is complete.”

About our Early Math Collaborative

In 2010, the Collaborative received a five-year $5 million Investing in Innovation (“i3”) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Collaborative reported data that, two years into that program, eight schools benefited from the intervention, substantially raising students’ math achievement, with a substantially higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations in math than comparison schools.

In groundbreaking district-wide work with Chicago Public Schools, the Collaborative also provides training to 50 pre-k through fifth grade network math facilitators. Those same facilitators are trained to work with 1,000 selected teacher leaders who represent every elementary school in the district.