New Study Reveals Voyager Sopris Learning’s TransMath Solution Is Helping Struggling Students Advance, Prepare for Algebra

Posted on Oct 25, 2018

  • Math
  • transmath

DALLASOct. 23, 2018Voyager Sopris Learning’s TransMath intervention solution has again been validated for its work with students who lack the foundational skills necessary for algebra. A recent, large-scale experimental study funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) demonstrated that TransMath was highly effective in helping struggling and special education students learn core fraction concepts. These students were able to employ mathematical practices—to reason abstractly and quantitatively—when they discussed core concepts such as the magnitude of fractions.

The study1, Fractions Intervention for Struggling 5th Grade Students: The Central Role of the Number Line,” was initially presented last fall at the National Science Foundation Conference in Washington, DC, and is scheduled to be formally published soon.

Dr. John Woodward, professor emeritus and past dean of the University of Puget Sound’s School of Education at Tacoma, Wash., is the senior author of TransMath. He and his co-author Mary Stroh developed TransMath based largely on their intervention research, which was funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.

According to Dr. Woodward, the program is designed intentionally to build proficiency in basic skills and core concepts for struggling students who may be two or more years below grade level, as well as special education students. TransMath begins by solidifying a student’s understanding of operations of whole numbers and concludes with in-depth coverage of pre-algebra and algebraic topics. Key content and problem-solving standards across the intermediate and middle grades are addressed in the program. 

“It is gratifying to see the results from the NSF study, which adds to an increasing wealth of evidence supporting how TransMath—through its visual representations, attention to the link between concepts and procedures, as well as how daily problem solving—can make such an impact with struggling students,” Dr. Woodward said. “Most math textbooks move too quickly, don’t provide enough distributed practice, and don’t present the key concepts, such as magnitude in fractions, in a sustained and explicit manner.”

The TransMath curriculum was selected for the NSF study, Dr. Woodward explained, because it provides a balance between teaching conceptual ideas and procedures for solving fraction problems.

“In fact, typical curricula for remedial and special education students rarely attend to the day-to-day structure and content of TransMath,” Dr. Woodward said. “The NSF study demonstrated once again that struggling and special education students can do more than just learn procedures in a rote manner. They are clearly capable of learning and talking about key concepts if given the appropriate balance of concepts, procedures, problem solving, and systematic review.”

The recent NSF study focused on fifth graders in 35 classrooms who were in the 15th to 38th percentile in mathematics. They were randomly assigned to TransMath or control conditions. Students were taught in small groups three to four times a week by retired teachers or math tutors. Each of the 52 lessons for both groups of students lasted approximately 35 minutes, and the topics included concepts that underlie fractions, as well as operations on fractions.

The effects across a range of measures were highly significant, especially in an area of particular concern to researchers: the magnitude or relative size of fractions, according to Dr. Woodward. “The lessons in this level of TransMath relied heavily on well-chosen visual models that helped students see big ideas being taught,” he noted.

Studies conducted in the mid-2000s—including Learning Disabilities Quarterly2 and Journal of Special Education3—showed similar successful results with TransMath’s impact on struggling and special education students.

Moreover, TransMath meets the “strong” evidence criteria for ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). And the solution has succeeded in districts such as City School District of New Rochelle (NY), where growth in math skills has led to growth in students’ class participation and confidence. Patrice Kentner, special education teacher in New Rochelle, says TransMath is “great for multisensory learners and provides pacing to allow students to close the achievement gap in a timely manner, as well as additional practice without the issue of cognitive overload for struggling students.”

For more information about Voyager Sopris Learning, visit For more information about TransMath, visit


1. Jayanthi, M., & Schumacher, R. (2017). Intervention in fractions at 5th grade: The central role of the number line. Paper presented at National Science Foundation Conference: STEM Education, Learning Disabilities, and the Science of Dyslexia, Washington, DC.

2. Woodward, J. (2006).  Developing automaticity in multiplication facts: Integrating strategy instruction with timed practice drills.  Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 29, 269-289.

3. Woodward, J., & Brown, C. (2006).  Meeting the curricular needs of academically low achieving students in middle grade mathematics. Journal of Special Education, 40(3), 151-159.


About Voyager Sopris Learning

Voyager Sopris Learning® is an education partner committed to unlocking the full potential of every teacher and every student. We believe that the best way to meet and exceed standards in education is to address the underlying systems of teaching and learning, and to nurture those systems at their most fundamental levels. Our programs and services are based on research and classroom evidence, ensuring they are easy to implement, teacher friendly and effective. We offer a variety of digital and blended instructional tools, programs, and professional development, all of which are designed to help every teacher deliver nothing short of the highest-quality instruction to every student. Voyager Sopris Learning is a business unit of Cambium Learning® Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ABCD).

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About Cambium Learning Group, Inc.

Cambium Learning® Group (Nasdaq: ABCD) is an award-winning educational technology solutions leader dedicated to helping all students reach their potential through individualized and differentiated instruction. Using a research-based, personalized approach, Cambium Learning Group delivers SaaS resources and instructional products that engage students and support teachers in fun, positive, safe and scalable environments. These solutions are provided through Learning A-Z® (online differentiated instruction for elementary school reading, writing and science), ExploreLearning® (online interactive math and science simulations and a math fact fluency solution) and Voyager Sopris Learning® (blended solutions that accelerate struggling learners to achieve in literacy and math and professional development for teachers). We believe that every student has unlimited potential, that teachers matter, and that data, instruction, and practice are the keys to success in the classroom and beyond.

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