The Potential of a Culturally Based Supplemental Mathematics Curriculum to Improve the Mathematics Performance of Alaska Native and Other Students

This randomized controlled trial conducted in Alaska examined the efficacy of the reform-oriented and culturally based Math in a Cultural Context (MCC) teacher training and curriculum. The results show that the Picking Berries (representing and measuring) and Going to Egg Island (grouping and place value) modules significantly improved students’ mathematics performance, with relatively robust effect sizes (0.82 and 0.39 standard deviations, respectively, both statistically significant at the .001 level). Both modules increased the gains of Alaska Native students significantly (effect sizes of 1.00 and 0.33 for the Picking Berries and Going to Egg Island modules, respectively). The analysis also revealed that the impacts were broad based. Significant impacts of the MCC modules were found for multiple conceptual areas. Moreover, the impacts were significant for most of the subgroups of schools and students examined.

Content Comments 

The purposes of this National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) journal article and research questions are well defined and effectively answered. The literature review, research design, methodology, instrument development, population selection, analyses, and limits of study are excellent. The authors provide a careful design of the assessments used to measure achievement and are cautious in their conclusions, thereby increasing the credibility of their findings. The communications quality is fairly typical for a journal article and the potential utility is extremely high. The experiment is an exemplary randomized controlled trial that could, and probably should, serve as a potential model for improving achievement for American Indian and Alaska Native students, if not for all students. As implied from the high content quality, the evidence of effectiveness is equally excellent.