Math And Science Teaching that promotes clear Expectations and Real Learning across Years for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

In response to the request for proposals from the Institute of Education Science National Center on Special Education Research (CFDA 84.324) in Mathematics and Science, the UNC Charlotte has received funding for Project Mastery, a three year research project focused on developing high quality mathematics and science instruction for students who participate in alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. Dr. Diane Browder, The Edward P. and Lake Snyder Distinguished Professor of Special Education serves as Principal Investigator and Dr. Fred Spooner, Professor of Special Education is co-investigator. The two Research Associates for Project Mastery are Bree Jimenez, Project Coordinator, and Barbara Agnello.

Research Goals. The project has three primary research goals: (a) articulation of “high expectations” for this population in math and science, (b) development and evaluation of an intervention model that builds knowledge across grade bands, and (c) development and evaluation of an intervention for teachers to develop instruction that links to grade level standards in math, language arts, and science.

Goal 1: Articulation of High Expectations for Math and Science Learning.
Teaching to grade level content standards is a recent expectation for students with significant cognitive disabilities promoted through NCLB requirements for all students to participate in assessments of mathematics and science. Project Mastery focuses on students who participate in alternate assessments judged against alternate achievement standards. Several project activities focus on the articulation of “high expectations” including the following which will be available on the website in 2009:
• Conceptual frameworks for mathematics and science for this population which will be shared in a National Curriculum Summit
• Learning sequences and target skills developed and validated with content experts in mathematics and science, special education experts, and teacher consultants to be on our website early 2009
• “Work it across” a model for extending state standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities
• Embedded systematic instruction plans for three different levels of disability (presymbolic, concrete symbolic, abstract symbolic)
• Universally designed lesson plans in mathematics and science
• Examples of objectives for standards-based IEPs

Goal 2: Evaluation of Planning for Alignment
During the 2008-2009 school year we worked with teachers in school systems in the Charlotte region to evaluate the applicability of the embedded systematic instruction plans, universally design lessons, and standards-based IEPs. Sample plans are being derived in these content areas (e.g., math education) and utilize the applied behavior analysis teaching strategies characteristic of effective interventions with this population. Teachers also received professional development to generate their own objectives and lesson plans. These plans are currently being field tested with teachers who have students in AA-AAS in elementary, middle, and secondary settings using fidelity of implementation, student progress monitoring, social validation, and generalization to evaluate their potential for next step efficacy studies.

Goal 3: National Validation of Professional Development in Instructional Alignment
The third goal (2009-2010; 2010-2011 school years) is to evaluate professional development modules for teachers to plan and implement grade-linked instruction in mathematics and science across multiple states. Although the models created in our second goal provided some examples, the current reality is that it is not possible to provide teachers with all lessons preplanned given the variation in state standards, homogeneity of the population and their needs for individualized instruction, and the scope of content across grades. The third goal of Project Mastery focuses on evaluating a professional development package to prepare teachers, in collaboration with general educators, to generate grade-linked lessons in mathematics and science. To date we have trained teachers in  South Dakota, Georgia, and South Carolina and for the following year Texas and Florida

Outcome to Be Achieved:
The goal for the three years is to provide a conceptual framework, clear set of expectations, explicitly defined interventions that show promise for this population (literacy-based math; inquiry-based science), and method of professional development that can then be evaluated using efficacy studies.


Curriculum Projects Office

Special Education & Child Development Department
College of Education Building
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

Phone: (704) 687-8492
Fax: (704) 687-2916

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