Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Early Numeracy Intervention Program for First-Grade Students with Mathematics Difficulties

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Early Numeracy Intervention Program for First-Grade Students with Mathematics Difficulties

Article excerpt

With the reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004; Public Law 108-446), states are implementing a response-to-intervention (RTI) process as a way to identify students with learning difficulties at a young age and provide intervention services to prevent future learning disabilities. A multitiered prevention and intervention model that includes universal screening, validated interventions, and ongoing monitoring of student response to instruction is one means for operationalizing RTI to identify those students who are most in need of intensive intervention (Vaughn, Wanzek, & Fletcher, 2007). A multitiered approach to early reading intervention is widely implemented across school districts nationwide (Vaughn, Wanzek, Woodruff, & Linan-Thompson, 2007). Equally important is the development and validation of Tier 2 intervention protocols as part of RTI early mathematics instruction. Educators must have access to validated, preventative early mathematics Tier 2 interventions to implement the RTI model with students who manifest mathematics difficulties.

Educators must have access to validated, preventative early mathematics Tier 2 interventions to implement the RTI model with students who manifest mathematics difficulties.

EARLY MATHEMATICS TIER 2 INTERVENTION

Recommendations from the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP; 2008) underscore the importance of providing early intervention that employs effective instructional practices, for at-risk students. For early mathematics interventions, research results are beginning to inform an understanding of the types of instructional practices and intensity of interventions that contribute to mathematics performance. Studies of the effects of Tier 2 mathematics interventions on the mathematics performance of at-risk first-grade students have produced findings that have implications for the design and delivery of interventions. For example, in one study, Bryant, Bryant, Gersten, Scammacca, and Chavez (2008) delivered mathematics intervention in small groups 3 to 4 days per week for 15 min per session for 18 weeks (total of 1,080 min and 72 sessions). The intervention focused on number concepts and operations such as quantity, counting, numerical sequencing, basic facts, and place value concepts. Although students' performance in small groups indicated that they understood the concepts, the study found no significant effect for first-graders (n = 26 Tier 2 students) on the mathematics progress monitoring measures. The authors hypothesized that students did not have sufficient daily time to practice the fundamental numeracy concepts to show significant findings on the fluency measures.

In a follow-up study, Bryant, Bryant, Gersten, Scammacca, Funk et al. (2008) designed a first-grade mathematics intervention that focused on early numeracy concepts and operations, which were similar to those taught in the earlier study. The follow-up study included a longer duration that consisted of 20-min sessions 4 days a week for 23 weeks (total of 1,840 min and 92 sessions); thus, more practice opportunities across the school year were built into the revised intervention as a function of increased intervention time. Results showed a significant effect for Tier 2 intervention for first-grade students (n = 42).

In yet another first-grade study, Fuchs et al. (2005) identified 127 students, from a pool of 564 first graders, as being at risk for mathematics difficulties based on scores from a set of screening measures. The identified students received small group tutoring 3 times per week for 16 weeks with 30 min devoted to numeracy concepts and 10 min to addition and subtraction facts using computer-assisted instruction (CAI; total of 1,440 min for early numeracy intervention and 480 min to develop fact fluency using CAI 48 sessions). Topics for the tutors were almost exclusively related to number concepts and operations. …

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