story by Claire Miller
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), low numbers of eighth-grade students scored at or above the proficient level on NAEP’s 2019 math assessment.
The 2019 scores – nine percent of students with disabilities and 34 percent without disabilities earning “proficient” or higher – capped off a decade of low performance on the math assessment.
Assistant Professor Jonte Myers and colleagues collected and reviewed studies published from 1978-2020 detailing how researchers implemented interventions for sixth-12th grade students with mathematics difficulties.
Their work, published in Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, could help teachers, researchers and other stakeholders understand how best to support students struggling in mathematics.
Myers and his colleagues synthesized results from 45 studies where researchers implemented interventions for students with mathematics difficulties, including those with and without disabilities who had low scores on standardized mathematics tests.
They found a medium effect size, suggesting that interventions were generally effective in helping students with mathematics difficulties improve their skills, with 69 percent of students who received treatment performing better than their peers who didn’t receive the intervention.
According to the research team, the technology-based interventions, cognitive-based instruction and visual representations used were the most effective in improving mathematics achievement for students with mathematics difficulties. These methods give students a range of strategies and tools to solve mathematics problems. They also allow them to practice and receive feedback quickly and help them visualize the more abstract parts of mathematics concepts.
Myers and his colleagues also identified a few factors that impacted the interventions’ effectiveness, including how closely teachers adhered to the intervention strategies, the length of time an intervention was implemented and the mathematics content domain addressed.
Their findings demonstrate the importance of incorporating intervention strategies for middle and high school students with mathematics difficulties.
“As students transition from elementary to secondary school, math learning builds in complexity, and early gaps in knowledge can increase later challenges and have lasting impacts on math achievement,” they wrote. “Teachers can leverage a wide array of existing interventions to provide core and supplemental math instruction that increases these students’ access to general education standards and their achievement.”