The research behind our elementary math curriculum

"It was clear that a classroom teacher designed the program because of the academic vocabulary that was used.
The whole concept behind the real-world,
fun activities, there was a definite purpose behind it."

Emma Davison, Salt Creek Elementary, Chula Vista ESD

The design of our instructional system is based on multiple strands of educational theory and research combined with our founder’s two decades of classroom experience.

Our instructional system supports teachers in creating student-centered learning for a wide-range of diverse students. A foundation of student-centered learning1 is positive relationships between teacher-and-students are related to the healthy development of children for academic achievement2 and positive social-emotional adjustment. 3,4,5,6 Teachers are supported via three causal pathways that lead to student-centered learning.

  • Actionable data

    Dashboards and other tools that help teachers to decide on interventions and enrichment opportunities. 

  • Teacher guided assessment

    Suggesting options and allowing professional judgment on the timing of assessments.

  • Managing classroom dynamics

    Supporting classroom management with live alerts about student requests for help, struggles, progress, and the ability to selectively reset student activities.

Enabling challenge and support in math for a wide-range of students

Our instructional system enables appropriate levels of challenge and support for a wide-range of students. U.S. teachers have students with diverse needs, prior knowledge, and language skill and yet they have less planning and prep time than other developed nations.7 Underserved populations (including ELLs)8 are less likely to be identified as gifted and talented9 and so enrichment opportunities need to be embedded in the curriculum. Students receive appropriate challenge and support via six causal pathways.

  • Competency-based Common Core mathematical instruction

    Our competency-based Common Core curriculum includes another foundation of student-centered learning1, requiring mastery before progressing10. Intervention and enrichment lessons offer students their level of support or challenge.

  • Next-level blended learning

    Individualized curriculum is combined with small-group mathematical activities that are role-based and structured, and daily whole-class discussions about problems that students find difficult.11,12

  • Real-world context

    Students are engaged with using realistic mathematics problem contexts, visual models, and interactive teaching processes.13

  • Common Core mathematical practices:

    Instructional activities and formative assessments intentionally engage students in the eight mathematical practices.14,15

  • Multilingual support for academic instruction in English

    Multilingual learners are supported through Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) strategies16 using multiple methods to convey domain-specific language, provide direct instruction for foundational concepts, and embed feedback within lessons. In addition, Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD®)17 approaches embed math vocabulary glossary with animations, audio and text at the start of each lesson and are available with 1-click.

  • Developing the whole student:

    Structuring group learning activities and peer-mentoring develop students’ social-emotional learning as a complement to their mathematics learning and executive function improvements.18


  1. Kaput, K. (2018). Evidence for Student-Centered Learning. Evolving Education publication. Minnesota, ERIC:ED581111. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED581111.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020.) 

  2. Osher, D., Cantor, P., Berg, J., Steyer, L., & Rose, T (2018). Drivers of Human Development: How Relationships and Context Shape Learning and Development. Applied Developmental Science, 24(1), 6-26. doi:10.1080/10888691.2017.1398650. 

  3. Muller, C. (2001). The role of caring in the teacher-student relationship for at-risk students. Sociological Inquiry, 71(2), 241-255. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682X.2001.tb01110.x. 

  4. Murray, C., & Malmgren, K. (2005). Implementing a teacher–student relationship program in a high-poverty urban school: Effects on social, emotional, and academic adjustment and lessons learned. Journal of School Psychology, 43(2), 137-152. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2005.01.003.  

  5. Steedly, K., Schwartz, A., Levin, M., and Luke, S. (2008). Social skills and academic achievement. Evidence for Education, 3(2), 1-7. ERIC: ED572705 Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED572705 (Accessed:05/23/2020).  

  6. Roorda, D., Koomen, H.M., Spilt, J.L. & Oort, F.J. (2011). The Influence of Affective Teacher–Student Relationships on Students’ School Engagement and Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Review of Educational Research, 81(4), 493-529. doi:10.3102/0034654311421793. 

  7. Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX. National Staff Development Council. Retrieved from https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/professional-learning-learning-profession-status-report-teacher-development-us-and-abroad.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020). 

  8. Sanchez, C. (2017). English language learners: How is your state doing, nprEd How Learning is Happening. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/02/23/512451228/5-million-english-language-learners-a-vast-pool-of-talent-at-risk (Accessed 05/23/2020.) 

  9. National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (2014). National Survey of Gifted Programs. Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Retrieved from https://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/key%20reports/2014%20Survey%20of%20GT%20programs%20Exec%20Summ.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020). 

  10. Sturgis, C., Patrick, S, & Pittenger, L. (2011). It's not a Matter of Time: Highlights from the 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit, p7. International Association of K-12 Online Learning. Retrieved from http://www.aurora-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/iNACOL_Its_Not_A_Matter_of_Time_full_report.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020.) 

  11. Dillenbourg, P., Prieto, L.P., & Olsen, JK (2018). Classroom Orchestration. In F. Fischer, C.E. Hmelo-Silver, S.R. Goldman, & Peter Reimann (Eds) International handbook of the learning sciences, Routledge. 

  12. Lou, Y., Abrami, P., & D'Apollonia, S. (2001). Small Group and Individual Learning with Technology: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71(3), 449-521. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/3516005 (Accessed 05/23/2020.) 

  13. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. & Drijvers P. (2014). Realistic mathematics education (pp521-525). In S. Lerman (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8. Retrieved from https://www.icrme.net/uploads/1/0/9/8/109819470/rme_encyclopaediamathed.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020). 

  14. Dean, C. & Brookhart, S.M. (2013). Mathematical Practices for Deep Understanding. Educational Leadership, 71(4). Retrieved at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/Mathematical-Practices-for-Deep-Understanding.aspx (Accessed 05/23/2020.) 

  15. Mateas, V. (2016). Debunking Myths about the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Mathematics Teaching in Middle School, 22(2), 93-99. Retrieved at https://www.nctm.org/Publications/Mathematics-Teaching-in-Middle-School/2016/Vol22/Issue2/Debunking-Myths-about-the-Standards-for-Mathematical-Practice/ (Accessed 05/23/2020.) 

  16. Genzuk, M. (2011). Specially designed academic instruction in English (SDAIE) for language minority students. Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Research Occasional Paper Series. Retrieved from http://www2.csudh.edu/tsr/assets/genzuk-sdaie-2011.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020).  

  17. Deussen, T., Autio, E., Roccograndi, A., & Hanita, M. (2014). The impact of project GLAD on students' literacy and science learning: Year 1 results from a cluster-randomized trial of sheltered instruction. Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, ERIC:ED562842. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED562842.pdf (Accessed: 05/23/2020).  

  18. Taylor, R.D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J.A. & Weissberg, R.P. (2017). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School‐Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta‐Analysis of Follow‐Up Effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156-1171. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12864.  

Related Posts