Best Practices in Math Interventions

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INTRODUCTION

School districts are faced with a multitude of academic intervention decisions, and the choice of a mathematics intervention is one of great importance. This curricular review and assessment, conducted by Hanover Research, is intended to provide additional insight on this topic. Information contained in the following report is predominantly drawn from national educational councils, organizations, or centers, as well as scholarly publications. Predominant sources include the What Works Clearinghouse, The Best Evidence Encyclopedia, and The National Council for Intensive Interventions, as well as the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The report is organized into two sections:

  • Section I: Literature Review begins with a brief introductory overview of standard components of intervention programs, before providing insight into general best practices of math intervention programs as identified by national councils, associations, and research centers. The section then examines research specifically dedicated to interventions for elementary age students published in academic journals and conducted by research centers.
  • Section II: Program Profiles identifies seven math instruction and intervention programs whose effectiveness has been identified by a credible authority. This section provides an overview of each program and describes the supporting research.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Hanover Research identified seven mathematics intervention programs with broad support from the research community. Credible authorities suggest the following programs are likely to significantly improve students’ mathematics abilities:
    • Fraction Face‐Off!
    • Hot Math Tutoring
    • Number Worlds
    • I CAN Learn Pre‐Algebra and Algebra
    • DreamBox Learning
    • enVisionMATH
    • Do The Math
  • Three crucial practices should be applied to all mathematics interventions: universal screening, explicit and systematic instructional methods, and data‐based decision making. The American Institutes for Research and the What Works Clearinghouse recommend that educators should screen all students in order to identify those in need of supplementary assistance. Additionally, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the What Works Clearinghouse found that explicit and systematic instructional methods are highly effective strategies. Lastly, the use of data to drive decision making is a common theme that unites recommendations from the American

    Institutes for Research, the Institute of Educational Sciences, and the National Center on Intensive Interventions.

  • Several research studies indicate additional practices that may effectively improve students’ mathematics performance, including: the dedication of at least 10 minutes to “fluent retrieval of basic arithmetic facts,” the development of students’ systemetized approach to all problem types, and the nurturing of students’ confidence. Recommendations specific to principals and other school leaders include providing implementation support at all levels of multi‐tiered systems and allowing individual schools to select intervention programming that suits their specific core curricula.
  • General consensus among researchers indicates that elementary school math interventions are essential to avoiding later difficulties. Research is united in the belief that early detection and remedy of math difficulties eliminates future struggles with increasingly complex and abstract mathematical concepts studied throughout secondary grades. Researchers have  identified “fluency and proficiency with basic arithmetic combinations and the increasingly accurate and efficient use of counting strategies” as indicators of early math proficiency.
  • Research‐based mathematics interventions typically use decidedly engaging tactics, such as role‐playing or technology‐assisted learning. While engaging students is viewed as a top priority, interventions typically emphasize distinctive qualities. For instance, Hot Math emphasizes students’ mastery of word problems, while Fraction Face‐Off aims to improve students’ proficiency with fractions.

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