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In 2015 the Collaborative was awarded a a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation in order to bring change to Head Start programs throughout the Chicago region. As a partnership with Chicago’s Department of Family Support and Services (DFSS) and SRI International, the project will impact approximately 200 Head Start teaching staff, better preparing them to provide quality early math experiences to more than 3,000 Head Start children during the project’s period.

Through learning labs, consultation with Head Start directors, and coaching, this program intends to help prepare teachers and teacher assistants to provide effective, intentional math instruction. It also intends to assist centers in the development of family math activities.

Through involving HS center directors, and structuring activities to create positive learning interactions among center staff and families, the program hopes to produce lasting systemic change. The project has potential to significantly deepen our understanding of effective and sustainable early math intervention, focusing on low-income children. It promotes the whole teacher and leader approach to professional development by developing not only their content knowledge, but also their attitudes and practice in early math. And it builds on the common goals, commitment, experimentation, and success shared by the entire staff as a community of learners.

Collaborative Math content will focus on nine topics emphasized in preschool mathematics, including sets, number sense, pattern, counting, measurement, number operations, data analysis, shape, spatial relationships. These concepts are organized around Big Ideas in early math, are developmentally appropriate, and are foundational to a young child’s understanding of mathematics.

Piloting of the project begins in the spring of 2016, with full implementation along with research efforts conducted in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.