Mathematics Study to Help Students with Learning Disabilities

Statistics show that only eight percent of students with learning disabilities meet or exceed mathematics standards by the eighth grade, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Erica Lembke 2017 Professor, Department Chair, Special Education, College of Education, University of Missouri
Erica Lembke

A research team led by the University of Missouri College of Education’s Professor Erica Lembke wants to improve that statistic. A new $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs will help Lembke and her team train teachers on the best practices for algebra readiness to support students with learning disabilities.

Project STAIR (Supporting Teaching of Algebra: Individualization and Readiness) will evaluate a system of instructional practices for supporting the algebra-readiness of middle school students with specific learning disabilities in mathematics. Other team members include Professors Leanne Ketterlin-Geller from Southern Methodist University, and Sarah Powell from the University of Texas-Austin.

The research teams will work with middle school mathematics teachers and their students in four regions: mid Missouri, St. Louis area, Dallas area, and the Austin area. During this four-year grant, professional development and coaching will be provided to teachers on both algebraic reasoning content for struggling middle school students, and also pedagogy for how to teach pre-algebra skills.

“The intended outcome of this project is improved algebraic reasoning and overall mathematics achievement for middle school students with disabilities,” said Lembke. “Algebra readiness is a critical area of need for students with disabilities and those at risk. We’re excited to start working in this critical area.”

For more information, contact Dr. Lembke.