Overview

The Parent Math Training Pilot in Jamaica is a pilot program targeting parents in low-income communities in Jamaica to support their foundational mathematics knowledge by providing them with evidence-based learning materials. The intention of this project is to increase the number and quality of parents’ mathematical interactions with their children at home. Specifically targeting parents of children in Grades 1 and 2, this purpose is driven by the family support hypothesis, which posits that parents who actively participate in their child’s schooling learn skills that can help them increase their child’s success in school (Meidel & Reynolds, 1999).

Funder

Inter-American Development Bank and the Jamaican Ministry of Education

Partner

Jamaican Ministry of Education 

Principal Investigator

Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Purpose

The island country of Jamaica’s national assessments indicates that less than 50 percent of students achieve mastery in numeracy. Specifically, the Grade 4 Numeracy Test from 2011 revealed that only 49.2 percent of students were able to demonstrate mastery on the three combined curriculum strands: Number Representations, Number Operations, Geometry, Measurement, Algebra, and Statistics. Only 29 percent of students mastered one or two of these strands, and 21.8 percent of students who took the assessment failed to demonstrate mastery on any of the strands (Benjamin, 2012). And according to UNICEF Jamaica, only 42 percent of students in Grade 1 demonstrated mastery on the numeracy subtest of Jamaica’s assessment of primary school readiness in 2009 http://www.unicef.org/jamaica/work_1569.htm#_ftnrefl). Beyond the student achievement statistics, surveys and assessments administered in Jamaica also indicate that levels of parental involvement are low (Rattray & Lawson, 2011; Education Taskforce, 2004) and that Jamaican parents often do not perceive themselves as having the knowledge and skills needed to support their children academically at home (Munroe, 2009).

The team at Research in Mathematics Education is addressing a three-pronged understanding of mathematical proficiency (Jamaican Ministry of Education, 2011a) through:  

  • developing evidence-based learning materials for parents/caregivers to use outside of the school context to support their children’s mathematics skills and understanding,
  • creating a set of comprehensive training materials for trainers/coaches to support parents’/caregivers’ implementation of the learning materials in their homes, and
  • developing a coherent set of six face-to-face workshops for Jamaican parents/caregivers that focus on foundational mathematics concepts identified as essential for students in Grades 1 and 2 by the Putting Mathematics into Family Life [PMFL] guide (Jamaican Ministry of Education, 2011b).

Methodology

In collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, RME will be using a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) design to determine the efficacy of the learning materials for the low-income communities in Jamaica. Of the 1,600 families sampled for the study, half of them (800 families) will be randomly assigned to the control group and will not receive any face-to-face workshops or learning materials from RME. The other 800 families will be randomly divided into two groups of 400 each. Treatment Group 1 will only receive the learning materials through face-to-face workshops developed through the RME team. Treatment Group 2 will receive additional hours of group coaching in addition to the face-to-face workshops.

The project has two main phases: (a) development of materials in Year 1; and (b) implementation of materials in Year 2. During this first year, the RME team engaged in an iterative design process to develop and validate the curriculum and training materials, followed by focus groups with relevant stakeholders, external reviews of the materials, and a feasibility study to examine the implementation of the materials. The materials align with national content standards and are representative of the content and skills taught in other primary education mathematics materials developed for the Caribbean geographical region.

During the second year of implementation, the RME team will hire and train coaches in Jamaica who will facilitate seven face-to-face workshops to parents and caregivers and the associated group coaching sessions. The objectives of these parent workshops is to: (1) provide parents with a solid conceptual understand of the target mathematics content (one mathematical concept or skill for each training), (2) provide parents/caregivers with an opportunity to practice using the mathematics learning materials with each other to get comfortable with them (i.e., knowing by doing; Spinuzzi, 2005), and (3) to receive information and guidance about how to generally incorporate mathematics into their routine activities and support their children’s mathematics learning. Implementation will be evaluated on the dimensions of dosage, quality of implementation, and mathematical interactions in the home learning environment.

Outcomes

We anticipate that compared to the control group, Treatment Group 1 will have an increase in student achievement, and an increase in quality and quantity of mathematical interactions with parents. We hypothesize that this increase is more pronounced in Treatment Group 2, where the parents receive additional group coaching.

References

Benjamin, T. (February 2,  2012). Math’s BIG problem. The Gleaner. Retrieved 11/20/14 from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120212/focus/focus4.html

Munroe, G. (2009). Parental involvement in education in Jamaica: Exploring the factors that influence the decision of parents to become involved in the education of their children. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database.

Rattray, R., & Lawson, D. S. (2011). Schools seek strategies for better ‘parental student support’. Retrieved 11/19/14 from www.jnbs.com/schools-seek-strategies-for-better-‘parental-student-support’ Education Taskforce. (2004). Taskforce report on education reform Jamaica (Rev. ed.) Kingston, Jamaica: Information Service.

Jamaican Ministry of Education (2011a). The national comprehensive numeracy programme. Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaican Ministry of Education (2011b). Putting mathematics into family life. Kingston, Jamaica.

Meidel, W. T., & Reynolds, A. J. (1999). Parental involvement in early intervention for disadvantaged children: Does it matter? Journal of School Psychology, 37, 379-402.