LSI Awarded Grant From The Children’s Board Of Hillsborough County

April 19, 2023

Tampa, FL – The Learning Systems Institute (LSI) at Florida State University has received a two-year grant from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. The Successful Start: Cognitively Guided Instruction project will aim to enhance the effectiveness of early elementary mathematics in Hillsborough County by providing mathematics teacher professional development to 300 voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) through third grade teachers in collaboration with Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The program will begin this summer and continue through the school year 2023-24 and 2024-25. The Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) program provided to teachers during the Successful Start project is based on an evidence-based CGI program that meets the What Works Clearinghouse standards for moderate evidence of effectiveness. CGI is one of the few mathematics teacher professional development programs that has this level of proven evidence of effectiveness."Graphic featuring the LSI logo, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County logo and a photo of Dr. Amanda Tazaz. The headline is "LSI has been awarded a grant from the Children’s Board Of Hillsborough County to fund a new cognitively guided instruction project.""

“The Successful Start project will provide training and support to teachers who serve students in VPK to third grade,” said principal investigator and LSI Senior Research Associate Dr. Amanda Tazaz. “These are the foundational grades where students learn the basics of mathematics necessary for success in later, more challenging mathematics courses. Research has also shown that student mathematics knowledge and achievement in preschool and the earliest grades of elementary predicts later success in the upper elementary years.”

The premise of the CGI program is that all students enter school with intuitive knowledge and abilities that can serve as the basis for developing their mathematical ideas. Teachers can help students build on that intuitive knowledge to develop a progressively abstract understanding of mathematics that make up the elementary school curriculum. 

In the program, teachers learn how students initially use concrete materials, such as drawings and math manipulatives, to solve math problems and how those procedures with the concrete materials evolve and are linked to more formal, abstract mathematics operations. This formal understanding will help participating teachers better understand the different ranges of mathematics abilities of students in their classroom, allowing for differentiated instruction with the goal of improving student achievement. 

This project will expand LSI’s previous work in the district by providing a more focused CGI professional development program to meet the needs of teachers in Hillsborough County. This focus is based upon specific program modification requests from local teachers and school district officials who participated in the prior implementation of the CGI program. It will include more explicit instruction and support on how to implement the CGI program ideas in the classroom utilizing district-approved resources.

The Successful Start project will meet the needs requested by lower elementary grades Hillsborough County teachers by developing supplemental early numeracy content for the professional development program and additional resources for teachers to use in the classroom.