Research using the Technology-enhanced, Research-based, Instruction, Assessment, and professional Development (TRIAD) model (Sarama et al., 2008) provides the clearest evidence from the early childhood mathematics literature regarding specifically tested approaches to providing professional development to diverse groups of teachers from various types of programs serving diverse groups of children. TRIAD is a model for developing and scaling up a research-based curriculum. It is during the latter phases of this process that the focus of the research shifts from curriculum development and efficacy testing to the specific testing of the best methods for training and implementation, at first on a small scale and then to larger and more diverse populations (Clements, 2007). TRIAD is focused on successful change of classroom practices around mathematics for the long term. In that spirit, the professional development of teachers is just one component of the overall change process, and teachers are only one of the key players involved. Successful change requires the support not only of teachers, but also of administrators, parents, and children themselves (Clements, 2007).
Evaluations of the TRIAD model have proven it to be effective in improving the quality of the mathematical environment and child outcomes (Clements and Sarama, 2008; Sarama et al., 2008). For example, in one study, mathematics outcomes of children participating in the experimental group demonstrated significant gains over children in the control group (effect size, 1.07, Cohen’s d) and comparison classrooms (effect size, .47, Cohen’s d) (Clements and Sarama, 2008). Another TRIAD-based in-service training experiment provided evidence that teachers in the experimental group reported doing more mathematics in the classroom, rating mathematics as more important than did control teachers, and feeling more prepared to teach mathematics.
Key components of the in-service professional development as demonstrated by the TRIAD studies are (1) training is job-specific and tied directly to the use of a curriculum; (2) the training is extensive and ongoing, including an initial training at the outset of the school year, with follow-up sessions; (3) teachers are supported through onsite coaching once per month, aimed at helping with curriculum implementation and discussion of any problems or concerns that teachers have regarding its use; and (4) teachers have opportunities for hands-on practice, discussion, and collaboration with others, as well as for reflection on their practice. In-person coaching is the primary resource for teachers, in contrast with the combination of coaching and web media support offered through Building Blocks.
Two early childhood mathematics curricula, which include in-service professional development, that have been rigorously evaluated are SRA Real Math Building Blocks (Clements and Sarama, 2008) and Pre-K Mathematics (Starkey, Klein, and Wakeley, 2004). An intervention that combined elements of these two curricula has also been tested through experimental