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How to Implement Successful Math Interventions

In order to help all students be successful with mathematics, it is important to identify students in need of supplemental math instruction. Educators can do this within a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model which is a coordinated system of academic and behavioral supports that include four basic components (Honig, Diamond, & Gutlohn, 2018):

  1. Multi-tiered levels of prevention and support
  2. Evidence-based programs and high-quality instruction
  3. Ongoing assessment, and
  4. Data-based decision making and problem solving

In this blog article, we will explore ways in which FAST™ can help teachers support their students in achieving mathematics success by identifying students in need of supplemental math instruction, using data to help guide intervention selection, and implementing targeted math interventions with fidelity.

Identifying Who Needs Math Intervention

Students enter our classrooms with varied educational experiences, learning histories, background knowledge, as well as unique strengths and weaknesses. As a result of the varied make-up of any given group of students in any given school, at least 20% of all students may be expected to struggle when new material is introduced (Brown-Chidsey & Bickford, 2016).

Universal screening data, ideally collected three times per school year, provide a starting point for identifying the students who could use extra help, or supplemental intervention, to meet learning goals in mathematics.

FAST offers several different tools, which may be used as universal screening measures. These screening measures provide general information about all students’ current math skills within a given classroom or school (e.g., students’ scores are categorized as being at “low risk,” “some risk,” and “high risk” for difficulties in mathematics).

These universal screening data, in conjunction with other information, may be used to identify which students may benefit from supplemental mathematics intervention.

Using Data to Target Specific Learning Needs

Once it is determined that a student may need supplemental math intervention, a teacher or problem-solving team may run the Individual Skills Reports or specific item analyses in order to gather more detailed information from the universal screening results. These analysis tools provide valuable information when attempting to target specific areas of instructional need.

The following example helps to illustrate how FAST math assessment results can assist in targeting specific learning needs:

The screenshot includes the results of a third-grade student who participated in universal screening for mathematics skills. Her school uses FAST aMath to screen all students for broad math abilities, three times per year. This student’s score on the fall administration of aMath was flagged as “high risk” for math difficulties.

As can be seen in the image above, this student’s score on aMath was below the 20th percentile. The results of this student’s universal screening assessment are indicative of her need for supplemental math instruction. However, a more detailed analysis of this student’s specific learning needs must be examined before determining the initial focus of the supplemental intervention.

Math Skills Domains

This student’s aMath Individual Skills Report provides information about specific math skills that this student has “mastered,” is currently “developing,” and will need to be taught in the “future.” These math skills are organized into the following six domains:

  1. Numbers and Operations
  2. Counting and Cardinality
  3. Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  4. Numbers and Operations in Base Ten
  5. Measurement and Data
  6. Geometry.

Below are this student’s current math skills within the Numbers and Operations in Base Ten domain.

As seen in the image above, this student currently has no mastered skills listed within the domain of Numbers and Operations in Base Ten. However, several developing skills are listed.

When examining the list of developing skills within this domain, and considering the sequence in which early mathematics skills are taught, “reading and writing numerals to 120” is one reasonable skill area in which to begin supplemental intervention.

Indeed, this is an essential foundational skill for all mathematics. Additional data-collection and specific item analysis, using one of the FAST earlyMath subtests (e.g., Numeral Identification) would provide even more detail about this student’s specific learning needs related to reading and writing numerals to 120.

For instance, the results of additional data collection could indicate if this student’s challenge with reading and writing numerals to 120 was related to a lack of accuracy and/or a lack of automaticity.

Selecting a Math Intervention

After an area of specific instructional need is identified, it is time to select an intervention that will target and strengthen the area of difficulty. Later this summer, FAST will offer a variety of tailored math interventions that target accuracy, automaticity, and broad math skills.

The initial set of interventions will be most closely aligned with the math skills measured by the earlyMath measures, with additional interventions targeting more advanced math skills to be added in the future. The math interventions will be organized within the following categories and will contain interventions intended to improve accuracy and/or automaticity, as well as interventions written specifically for Tier 1 groups and Tier 2 groups:

  • Number Sense
  • Whole Number Operations
  • Rational Number Knowledge
  • Measurement
  • Algebra
  • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability.

The initial set of math interventions that will become available during the summer of 2019 will include interventions specific to developing accuracy and/or automaticity with the following math skills:

  • rote counting
  • rational counting
  • skip counting
  • reading number symbols
  • symbol-quantity match
  • quantity comparison
  • part-part-whole
  • place value with tens and ones
  • conceptual understanding of addition and subtraction
  • basic math facts

If we consider the example student’s data in the previous section, an area that should be targeted for intervention would be reading and writing numerals to 120. Beginning in the summer of 2019, the FastBridge Learning® system will offer the following interventions specifically designed to target reading number symbols:

  • 3-Step Labeling Procedure
  • Incremental Rehearsal
  • Constant Time Delay
  • and Number Bingo

Each of these interventions will be organized by instructional need (accuracy and/or automaticity), as well as group setting (Tier 1 or Tier 2).

Implementing the Intervention and Collecting Progress Data

After selecting the skill area to target during the intervention, and selecting an intervention matched to the skills, it’s essential to ensure that the intervention is implemented with fidelity and that student progress data are collected on a regular basis.

Implementing the Intervention

For each FAST math intervention that will be offered, there will be a series of lessons, intended to help teachers and interventionists build an understanding of how to implement each intervention and when to use it for which students. These lessons will include information about standardized administration, progress monitoring recommendations, a checklist to monitor intervention fidelity, and more.

Collecting Progress Data

Regular collection of student progress data provides timely information about the effectiveness of a given intervention for a given student. FAST offers a variety of math progress monitoring measures, which are summarized in the following table.

 


Summary

To meet the instructional needs of all students, it is essential to identify students in need of supplemental math instruction, use data to target specific learning needs and select interventions that are aligned with those needs. However, all interventions must be implemented with fidelity, and progress data should be collected regularly. With the upcoming launch of FAST’s tailored math interventions, teachers and problem-solving teams will easily be able to select and implement math interventions matched to their students’ needs. Stay tuned!

References

Brown-Chidsey, R. and Bickford, R. (2016). Practical handbook of multi-tiered systems of support: Building academic and behavioral success in schools. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Honig, B., Diamond, L., & Gutlohn, L. (2018). Teaching Reading Sourcebook: Third Edition. Berkeley, CA: Consortium on Reading Excellence in Education, Inc. (CORE).

 

 

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