teaching strategies, materials, and supportive environment they can provide to promote mathematical development. A study with California elementary school teachers showed that those who received professional development in which teachers worked directly with curriculum materials associated with NCTM standards were more likely to report reform-oriented teaching practices in mathematics. Furthermore, results suggested that a professional development curriculum that overlaps with the curriculum of students improves instructional practices and student outcomes (Cohen and Hill, 2000).
In early childhood mathematics, few studies exist demonstrating the causal effects of professional development on children‘s outcomes. Nevertheless, two programs of research in early childhood mathematics have demonstrated a causal link between the delivery of professional development to implement a mathematics curriculum and positive child outcomes (Clements and Sarama, 2007a, 2008; Sarama et al., 2008). This research demonstrates the effectiveness of curriculum-based professional development methods at the early childhood level, which complements and extends the existing data on effective approaches at the elementary level (Cohen and Hill, 2000; Sarama and DiBiase, 2004). Because experimental research is quite limited in this area, no studies comparing alternative approaches to professional development (i.e., curriculum-based versus non-curriculum-based) have been conducted. However, there is a strong rationale for the use of a mathematics curriculum to provide young children with carefully sequenced mathematical experiences in the classroom. Thus, although additional research would broaden understanding of the best means for providing professional development in early childhood mathematics, the current curriculum-based research provides evidence to support the link between curriculum and professional development (Clements and Sarama, 2007a, 2008; Sarama et al., 2008).
Research on early childhood mathematics has largely been focused on understanding children’s mathematical development and the types of experiences that facilitate this learning. This work has also led to the development of an array of early childhood mathematics curricula. However, little research has been done to date on the best methods to prepare educators to support children’s mathematical development or how to best provide training on mathematical curriculum implementation. As a result, questions about how to effectively scale up efforts to meet the needs of the early childhood workforce, as described in this chapter, have not yet been adequately addressed. The data that do exist can provide an example of effective practices and are presented below.