The Effects of Tier 2 Intervention on the Mathematics Performance of First-Grade Students Who Are at Risk for Mathematics Difficulties

By Bryant, Diane Pedrotty; Bryant, Brian R. et al. | Learning Disability Quarterly, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Tier 2 Intervention on the Mathematics Performance of First-Grade Students Who Are at Risk for Mathematics Difficulties


Bryant, Diane Pedrotty, Bryant, Brian R., Gersten, Russell M., Scammacca, Nancy N., Funk, Catherine, Winter, Amanda, Shih, Minyi, Pool, Cathy, Learning Disability Quarterly


Abstract. Responsiveness to Intervention (RtI) is recommended both as an essential step before identifying learning disabilities (LD) and as a mechanism for preventing learning difficulties. The use of evidence-based multi-tiered interventions is of critical importance when implementing RtI. This article presents the results of a study that examined the effects of Tier 2 intervention on the performance of first-grade students who were identified as at risk for mathematics difficulties. Participants included 161 (Tier 2, N = 42) first graders. Tier 2 students received 20-minute intervention booster lessons in number and operation skills and concepts for 23 weeks. Results showed a significant intervention effect on the Texas Early Mathematics Inventories-Progress Monitoring (TEMI-PM, University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency) total standard score.

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There is a growing interest in early mathematics difficulties, stemming in part from prevalence figures indicating that 5% to 10% of school-age children exhibit mathematics disabilities (L. Fuchs, Fuchs, & Hollenbeck, 2007; Gross-Tsur, Manor, & Shalev, 1996; Ostad, 1998). The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004) supports the use of Response to Intervention (RtI) as a way of identifying students with learning disabilities (LD), including students who may have LD in mathematics. Initially conceptualized by Heller, Holtzman and Messick (1982), and further developed by Fuchs and Fuchs (1998), Fuchs, Fuchs, and Speece (2002), and Vaughn and Fuchs (2003), RtI holds promise as an alternative to more traditional approaches to LD identification and as a means to improve procedures associated with prevention and remediation (e.g., implementation of validated practices and assessment of student response to treatment).

Briefly, the RtI approach is characterized by (a) a high-quality general education program that includes universal screening procedures to identify students at risk for academic difficulties, (b) secondary intervention consisting of a standard, evidence-based treatment protocol with progress monitoring for a specified duration, and (c) tertiary intervention that is more intensive and tailored to individual student needs (Fuchs, Mock, Morgan, & Young, 2003; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003).

Tier 1 is characterized by implementation of evidence-based core instruction for all students (Chard et al., 2008; L. Fuchs, Fuchs, Yazdian, & Powell, 2002). Tier 2 includes intervention to prevent further mathematics difficulties with ongoing progress monitoring to assess response to treatment for students who are identified with risk status in early mathematics skills and concepts. In mathematics, Tier 2 intervention consists of small-group, explicit and systematic instructional procedures incorporating concrete-representation-abstract sequences (Miller & Hudson, 2007) with a fixed duration of instruction. Tier 3, or tertiary instruction, is reserved for students who are struggling to the extent that they require more intensive intervention than a small-group session conducted in their classroom 3-5 days a week.

To date, a multi-tiered prevention and intervention model for operationalizing RtI has been applied in early reading (e.g., Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, & Hickman-Davis, 2003) and, to some extent, in early (primary level) mathematics instruction (D. Bryant, Bryant, Gersten, Scammacca, & Chavez, 2008; L. Fuchs et al., 2007). More research is needed in early mathematics (Chard et al., 2005; L. Fuchs et al., 2005; Gersten, Jordan, & Flojo, 2005).

Measures for screening and progress monitoring are increasingly available for schools (e.g., B. Bryant, Bryant, Gersten, Wagner, Roberts, Kim et al., 2008; Chard et al., 2005; L. Fuchs et al., 2007; VanDerHeyden, Witt, Naquin, & Noell, 2001) to identify students at risk. An emerging body of research on young children's mathematics cognition and the way they learn early mathematics concepts is contributing to our understanding of the early numeracy skills that prove problematic for students at risk for mathematics disabilities and should serve as the core of screening measures (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2001; L. …

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