What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), a division of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), publishes research-based education practice guides that address current educational challenges. The most recent practice guide, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8
, provides five recommendations
that educators and curriculum developers can use to help students in grades 4 through 8 develop better skills in mathematical problem solving.
Unlike many of the mathematical educator guides floating around the Web, these IES publications are developed through rigorous research and the validity of this research is also evaluated. After reviewing all available studies pertaining to the topic at hand, the authors of the practice guide assign a “level of evidence” (strong, moderate, or minimal) to each recommendation. During this evaluation process authors examine individual studies and then consider the whole evidence base, evaluating factors such as the number, quality, and design of the relevant studies. For more information on the role of evidence and the criteria for each level, see page 3 of the practice guide.
Check out the practice guide and let us know what you think! How helpful are the five recommendations? Is the strength of evidence rating important to you? Does the evidence surprise you in any way?
Last week, I provided information about Response to Intervention (RTI)
and details about how Tier 1 is meant to be implemented
to all students. While some remediation is acceptable in Tier 1, students who do not appear to be making progress should be provided with Tier 2 interventions, and one or two students may eventually be recommended for Tier 3 interventions.
Tier 2 instruction is typically provided for 30-40 minutes per day, several days per week. Interventions are often provided with the assistance of an additional teacher who comes into the classroom and works with the small group of students, or who assists the group of students in another setting. Tier 3 instruction is also provided in addition to the regular classroom instruction. However, Tier 3 instruction is often provided one-on-one because the number of students needing this level of intervention is quite limited.
The Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) has provided a guide, Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention for Elementary and Middle Schools. This guide provides research-based recommendations regarding RTI, including tips for implementing Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. While several suggestions are made, below are the ones that have been found to have at least a moderate level of effectiveness.
- Instruction should be explicit and systematic – provide models, guided practice, and feedback.
- Interventions should incorporate instruction in solving word problems that derive from common underlying structures.
- Interventions should provide opportunities for visual representations.
- About 10 minutes of each intervention session should focus on the retrieval of basic facts.
While integrating an RTI framework is not a simple task for any school, I hope that you’ve learned a little more about what is necessary for the process to work. Please, let us know…how is your school working with RTI? Have your efforts been successful in improving student achievement?
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About a year ago, the US Department of Education published a practice guide with 8 recommendations for helping teachers use Response to Intervention (RTI) to identify and help students in need of math interventions. We've found this guide to be an invaluable resource and worth mentioning as you think about your RTI plans this fall.
So, where should you start with RTI this fall? The US Department of Education recommends universal screening to determine which students are likely to need intervention. The practice guide provides a checklist for following this recommendation.
From Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools
Recommendation 1. Screen all students to identify those at risk for potential mathematics difficulties and provide interventions to students identified as at risk.
__ As a district or school sets up a screening system, have a team evaluate potential screening measures. The team should select measures that are efficient and reasonably reliable and that demonstrate predictive validity. Screening should occur in the beginning and middle of the year.
__ Select screening measures based on the content they cover, with an emphasis on critical instructional objectives for each grade.
__ In grades 4 through 8, use screening data in combination with state testing results.
__ Use the same screening tool across a district to enable analyzing results across schools.
Download the full list of recommendations and their corresponding checklists from the Institute of Educational Sciences website.
Photo credit: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/