New research published in the journal EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION AND POLICY ANALYSIS June 25, 2014 (http://epa.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/06/20/0162373714536608.full.pdf+html?ijkey=J2BxFXoAWRPSo&keytype=ref&siteid=spepa) investigated the use of mathematics instructional practices by first-grade teachers in the United States. The researchers identified four types of instructional activities (i.e., teacher-directed, student-centered, manipulatives/calculators, movement/music) and eight types of specific skills taught (e.g., adding two-digit numbers). First-grade students were then classified into five groups on the basis of their fall and/or spring of kindergarten mathematics achievement—three groups with mathematics difficulties (MD)
Overall, the researchers found no evidence of a relation between the percent of MD students in a first-grade teacher’s class and the frequency with which teacher-directed activities were used or skills taught. However, they did observe that first-grade teachers in classrooms with higher percentages of students with MD were more likely to use practices not associated with greater mathematics achievement by these students.
Controlling for many potential confounds, they also found that only more frequent use of teacher directed instructional practices was consistently and significantly associated with residualized (value added) gains in the mathematics achievement of first-grade students with prior histories of MD.
For students without MD, more frequent use of either teacher-directed or student-centered instructional practices was associated with achievement gains. In contrast, more frequent use of manipulatives/calculator or movement/ music activities was not associated with significant gains for any of the groups.
For the wide range of eight sets of skills taught, the researchers found little consistent relation between the frequency with which particular skills were taught and the mathematics achievement of first-grade students.