Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Meta-Analysis of Acquisition and Fluency Math Interventions with Instructional and Frustration Level Skills: Evidence for a Skill-by-Treatment Interaction

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Meta-Analysis of Acquisition and Fluency Math Interventions with Instructional and Frustration Level Skills: Evidence for a Skill-by-Treatment Interaction

Article excerpt

Abstract. Implementation of effective interventions relies on the use of assessment data to adequately describe the learning problem and offer potential solutions. The use of curriculum-based assessment and measurement when combined with the learning hierarchy could offer a paradigm for decision making based on a skill-by-treatment interaction. Meta-analytic procedures were used to analyze the link between skill proficiency and interventions categorized as addressing acquisition or fluency needs. Results suggest that the skill-by-treatment paradigm may be useful for matching skill levels in math to successful interventions and illustrate the need for additional research examining fluency interventions, particularly for students with instructional-level skills.


Assessment data are critical to the instructional process (Linn & Gronlund, 2000). This is particularly the case when we consider that an average of 20% of students in elementary schools require additional academic support beyond what is associated with typical classroom instruction (Burns, Appleton, & Stehouwer, 2005). Additional data are needed for these struggling students to better identify and analyze the problem so that we can suggest interventions with a higher likelihood for success (Hosp, 2008).

For decades in school psychology, assessment data collected for the purpose of identifying interventions were consistent with an aptitude-by-treatment interaction (ATI) in which the effectiveness of instructional strategies for individual students was determined by underlying characteristics of the students (Cronbach, 1957). However, after an entire career of research, the architects of the original ATI approach concluded that cognitive abilities alone did not explain individual differences in intervention effectiveness (Cronbach & Snow, 1977). Although research regarding the use of measures of cognitive processes for intervention design is ongoing (Fiorello, Hale, & Snyder, 2006; Floyd, Evans, & McGrew, 2003; Hale, Fiorello, Berlin, & Sherman, 2003; Hale, Fiorello, Kavanagh, Hoeppner, & Gaither, 2001), there as of yet appears to be a lack of a direct link between aptitudes and intervention effectiveness (Kavale & Forness, 2000; Reschly & Ysseldyke, 2002).

Criticisms of standardized norm-referenced measures as lacking instructional relevance (Charlesworth, Fleege, & Weitman, 1994; Marston, 1989; Reschly, 1996; Salvia, Ysseldyke, & Bolt, 2007) have led to the development of informal assessments used explicitly to inform intervention efforts (Shapiro, Angello, & Eckert, 2004). Two common assessment approaches used within the academic intervention process are curriculum-based measurement (CBM; Deno, 1985) and curriculum-based assessment for instructional design (CBA-ID; Gickling & Havertape, 1981). Although the two assessment approaches are related, they differ in purpose in that CBM assesses the effectiveness of an intervention, but provides little information that can be used to design interventions (Burns, MacQuarrie, & Campbell, 1999; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Hamlett, 2003). Conversely, CBA-ID is not validated for the purposes of evaluating intervention effectiveness, but does provide data that can be used to suggest an appropriate intervention (Burns, Dean, & Klar, 2004).

CBA-ID informs intervention decision making by sampling student behavior within the instructional materials and comparing student skill and task demand (Gravois & Gickling, 2008). For example, a student may be asked to read orally from pages within the grade-level reading basal for 1 min each and the percentage of words that the student read correctly would be computed. That percentage of words read correctly would then be compared to a criterion of 93%-97% (Gickling & Thompson, 1985), which is called an instructional level. If the student reads less than 93% of the words correctly, then the task would represent a frustration level and a task that contained more than 97% known words would represent an independent level. …

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