Studies of the Implementation of the Early Reading and Early Math Strategies

Fall 2003 – Spring 2006

Research Team: Christine Suurtamm, Lead Researcher; Barbara Graves, Nancy Vézina, Marie-Josée Berger, Renée Forgette-Giroux, Claire Maltais

Project Manager: Martha Koch

Funded by: Ontario Ministry of Education

The Studies of the Implementation of the Early Reading and Early Math Strategies examined an Ontario Ministry of Education large-scale professional development initiative to improve the quality of reading and mathematics instruction in the primary grades. The research examined connections among all components of the initiative as it unfolded and described aspects of teachers’ classroom practices, their professional development experiences and needs, and the outcomes of the different aspects of the training. The research investigation included three principal components: province-wide questionnaires; analysis of training models and materials; and case studies. The information collected from each component helped to inform the other components of the research.

There are several things that the research points to that supported the implementation of the Early Reading and Early Math Strategies initiatives. The coherence of the expert panel reports, training materials, and training provided a solid framework for the professional development initiative. Through questionnaire, interview, and case study data, we see that much of what was recommended has been taken up in several ways. Our research indicates that the Early Reading and Early Math Strategies have contributed to teachers’ understanding of early reading and early math. The focus on early reading was a continuation of ongoing work in literacy with a renewed interest in developing a common language and common understandings across the province. The focus on early math provided teachers with an understanding of “big ideas” of particular primary math concepts and classroom strategies such as encouraging student communication, the use of manipulatives, and problem solving in mathematics. This work on early math was also seen as a starting point for further professional development, resources, and support in primary mathematics so that teachers and principals will become as comfortable with mathematics as they are with literacy.

Selected publications:
The following publications are selected examples of work coming out of this research.

Suurtamm, C., Graves, B., & Koch, M. (2005). Building community: Focusing on a provincial initiative to build primary teacher expertise in mathematics. International Commission on Mathematical Instruction – Study 15. May 2005. Brazil.

Vézina, N. et Suurtamm, C. (2005). Améliorer l’enseignement des mathématiques au primaire. Conférence internationale sur la recherche en éducation en milieu minoritaire de langue française (CIREM). Ottawa, Ontario, le 22 avril 2005.