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Mathematics Interventions: What Strategies Work for Struggling Learners or Students With Learning Disabilities?

In a search of evidence-based materials from research organizations, we found several resources that are written for teachers and other practitioners. These resources have the following strategies in common: providing systematic and explicit instruction; teaching visual representation of functions and relationships, such as manipulatives, pictures, and graphs; providing peer-assisted instruction; and using ongoing, formative assessment. Other strategies are listed as well in these publications. The Best Evidence Encyclopedia from Johns Hopkins University, which reviews mathematics programs and case studies of schools, is another useful resource that we’ve provided below.

These are just a few of the resources available that are in the public domain. The Ask A REL service can also provide additional peer-reviewed, full-text studies or articles on this and other topics.

Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools [PDF]
This 2009 practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse provides eight recommendations to help teachers, principals, and school administrators use RtI to identify students who need assistance in mathematics and to address the needs of these students through focused interventions. Each recommendation has practical suggestions for implementation.

Best Evidence Encyclopedia
The Best Evidence Encyclopedia reviews mathematics programs and rates them according to the overall strength of the evidence supporting their effects on student achievement. The reviews summarize evidence on three types of programs: mathematics curricula, computer-assisted instruction, and instructional process programs.

Doing What Works: Response to Intervention in Elementary–Middle Math
The Doing What Works website provides an overview of four recommendations from the practice guide as well as state and district examples and planning templates that address the practices for Response to Intervention in elementary-middle math.

Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Difficulties in Mathematics
Based on meta-analyses of more than 50 studies, this research brief from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics reviews six aspects of instruction that have been found to be consistently effective in teaching students who have difficulties with mathematics: systematic and explicit instruction, think-alouds, peer-assisted learning, and formative assessment data.

Math Education Practices for Students with Disabilities and Other Struggling Learners: Case Studies of Six Schools in Two Northeast and Islands Region States
This report from the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands describes in-depth practices at six schools that are making targeted efforts to improve math education for students with disabilities and other struggling learners. It examines each school's practices for improving the math learning of all students as well as specific supports for students with disabilities and other struggling learners and identifies the challenges that schools face to serve students with diverse needs.

Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities or Difficulty Learning Mathematics: A Guide for Teachers
This guide from the Center on Instruction describes seven effective instructional practices for teaching mathematics to K–12 students with learning disabilities that were identified in the Center’s synthesis of intervention research, and also incorporates recommendations from "The Final Report of The National Mathematics Advisory Panel".

The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk is a service provided by a collaborative of the REL program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). This response was prepared under a contract with IES, Contract ED-06-CO-0016, by REL Northwest administered by Education Northwest. The content of the response does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or REL Northwest.

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