Strengthen Mathematics Intervention to Promote Student Success (2024)

  • Principal Leadership
  • February 2021
Suggestions for middle level principals
By Amy Brodesky, Emily fa*gan, and Theresa MacVicarPrincipal Leadership ArticleFebruary 2021
  • Strengthen Mathematics Intervention to Promote Student Success (1)

Schools across the nation face a pressing need to improve the mathematics performance of middle level students who are not reaching proficiency on standardized assessments and have significant unfinished learning from prior grades. For example, on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), approximately two-thirds of eighth graders scored below proficient in mathematics. This is a critical issue because students’ difficulties with mathematics at the middle level can negatively impact their future academic and career options. To find out how U.S. public schools are implementing mathematics intervention classes, we conducted classroom observations, interviews with school/district leaders and teachers, and the National Survey on Supporting Struggling Mathematics Learners in the Middle Grades (with funding from the National Science Foundation).

What Are Mathematics Intervention Classes?

The main goal of intervention classes is to help students become more successful mathematics learners by building their understanding of essential content as well as their motivation and confidence. These classes typically have small class sizes—six to 15 students—allowing for more teacher-student interactions and individualized instruction.

Schools need to be clear about what this class is and what it is not. Remind students and staff that mathematics intervention class is not a replacement for students’ general education math class or a pullout; it’s an additional class that supplements the student’s regular math class.

Common Challenges

By the middle level, students who have had persistent struggles may approach mathematics with feelings of learned helplessness, anxiety, decreased confidence, or low motivation. To help shift student attitudes, these intervention classes need to provide active learning experiences that engage and empower students as mathematics thinkers and doers.

Implementation Suggestions

Find ways to implement or strengthen mathematics intervention classes at your school.

1. Bring together a leadership team for mathematics intervention.

Convening a leadership team will be instrumental in conceptualizing or strengthening the vision and carrying out the goals.

  • Include a variety of staff to ensure that different perspectives are represented.
    • Your team might include school administrators, mathematics leaders, coaches or coordinators, mathematics intervention teachers, general education math teachers, or special educators. Charge the team with specific tasks, including setting the goals and vision, making decisions about mathematics intervention class structures, scheduling, staffing, and entrance and exit criteria for students.
  • Establish an equitable process for identifying students.
    • Set entrance criteria that use a variety of data sources—screening tools, assessments, and teacher input—and a structured decision-making process to help reduce bias and identify students for mathematics intervention classes. Monitor the process and ensure that any issues of disproportionality, such as gender, race, English proficiency, or socioeconomic status, are addressed.

2. Amplify the vision and goals for mathematics intervention classes.

Establish and communicate a vision that includes specific goals for mathematics intervention classes and clarifies expectations for the broader school community. The national survey found that many schools identified the following goals: (1) address gaps in foundational math concepts from prior grades; (2) reteach and support grade-level content; and (3) build students’ motivation for and confidence in doing mathematics.

  • Set clear goals for the purpose of mathematics intervention classes.
    • Ensure that teachers can optimize the available time. To support this work with your leadership team, we have created guiding questions and a Setting Goals for Mathematics Intervention Resource.
  • Check alignment of goals with class time and structures.
    • Expectations for a mathematics intervention class that meets only twice a week will need to be different than for a class that meets daily. Make sure that the goals are well-aligned to the allotted instructional time so that teachers and students will feel empowered to attain them.
  • Communicate goals and vision to the school community.
    • Convey messages about the importance of mathematics intervention classes and share and celebrate successes. During periods of remote and blended learning, it will continue to be critical to communicate expectations for participation in mathematics intervention classes so students will value and utilize this additional support.

3. Identify mathematics content priorities for intervention lessons.

A common refrain from mathematics intervention teachers is “Too much content, too little time.” Identify a set of high-priority math topics and learning goals, along with a proposed timeline for meeting them. Establishing a manageable scope of content also affords teachers the necessary flexibility to be responsive to students’ needs. To prioritize content topics, use a combination of district assessment data, teacher input, and resources such as Achieve the Core’s focus standards.

4. Schedule sufficient time for mathematics intervention classes.

An initial challenge of implementing intervention classes is figuring out how to add these classes to an already-packed schedule. Nearly 40 percent of respondents to the national survey said their schools use a dedicated block in which students are assigned to an intervention or enrichment class. Nearly half of respondents indicated that their intervention classes meet five times per week; the next most common approach was three times per week. The majority of schools have intervention classes lasting 40–59 minutes, but some schools have classes as short as 20 minutes. Consider these two scheduling issues:

  • Avoid having very short classes or ones that meet infrequently.
    • When classes are short or meet only once or twice a week, their potential for impact on student outcomes is limited. Schedule intervention classes to provide sufficient time and continuity, allowing teachers to engage students in robust math lessons.
  • Protect intervention class time.
    • Ensure that students are not pulled out of intervention classes, and also avoid canceling these classes for school assemblies and other events. Protecting intervention time supports student learning and communicates to the whole school community that these classes are valued.

5. Carefully select intervention teachers and provide ongoing support.

It is a myth that intervention classes are easy to teach because they have small class sizes. These classes require experienced teachers who can address students’ wide range of learning needs and create a positive, supportive learning environment. Select teachers who possess strong content knowledge, responsive pedagogical practices, and the ability to connect and build relationships with students. Intervention teachers need to set high expectations and convey a growth mindset about the potential of all students to learn math. Two common staffing models: (1) interventionists who teach only these classes, or (2) general education mathematics teachers who teach intervention classes in addition to their regular classes. Consider these suggestions for supporting intervention teachers:

  • Provide teachers with dedicated planning time for intervention classes.
    • Planning time is essential for teachers to prepare high-quality intervention lessons that are targeted to their students’ needs. Two-thirds of survey respondents reported that they had little or no scheduled planning time specifically for intervention classes. This issue sometimes occurs when general education teachers are assigned an intervention class in addition to their other classes without getting additional planning time. Ensure that teachers have planning time specifically for math intervention classes.
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration and professional learning.
    • Survey results revealed that a common challenge facing mathematics intervention teachers is a lack of scheduled meetings with general and special educators for collaborating and co-planning to address student needs. In addition to collaborative planning, provide opportunities for professional learning and support, such as coaching, professional learning communities, or workshops/courses focused on teaching mathematics intervention classes.

6. Use a continuous improvement process.

Adding mathematics intervention classes is not a stand-alone solution and needs to be part of a concerted effort that includes strengthening Tier 1 general education math instruction at your school. Make a plan to assess the progress of mathematics intervention classes: Gather feedback from all stakeholders, review findings, identify strengths, and target areas for improvement. Examine standardized assessment data as well as other indicators of student progress, such as increased participation and performance in general ed math classes. Using a continuous improvement process will help your school examine current practices, refine the goals and vision, and make adjustments.

Amy Brodesky is the project director for the Strengthening Mathematics Intervention Classes project at Education Development Center (EDC). Emily fa*gan is a senior mathematics education specialist and Theresa MacVicar is a mathematics education specialist involved in the project at the EDC.

This article is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1621294. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Strengthen Mathematics Intervention to Promote Student Success (2024)


What are some examples of math interventions? ›

Mathematics Interventions: What Strategies Work for Struggling Students?
  • Systematic and explicit instruction.
  • Visual representation of functions and relationships, such as manipulatives, pictures and graphs.
  • Peer-assisted instruction.
  • Ongoing, formative assessment.

How can you improve the classroom to promote mathematics? ›

Keep reading to uncover all of our top math strategies for keeping your students excited about math.
  1. Explicit instruction. ...
  2. Conceptual understanding. ...
  3. Using concepts in Math vocabulary. ...
  4. Cooperative learning strategies. ...
  5. Meaningful and frequent homework. ...
  6. Puzzle pieces math instruction. ...
  7. Verbalize math problems. ...
  8. Reflection time.
Jul 26, 2021

What are the 5 intervention strategies? ›

Let's take a look at the most commonly used intervention strategies:
  • Behavioural Interventions. ...
  • Collaborative Interventions. ...
  • One-to-One Interventions. ...
  • Classroom-Based Interventions. ...
  • Social, Emotional and Wellbeing Interventions. ...
  • Peer Tutoring. ...
  • Metacognition and Self-Regulation. ...
  • Homework.
Jul 9, 2021

What are the goals for math intervention? ›

Our national survey found that many schools identified three key goals for math intervention classes: (1) address gaps in foundational concepts from prior grades, (2) reteach and support grade-level content, and (3) build students' motivation for and confidence in doing math.

What is an example of intervention for students? ›

Targeted Intervention Strategies for Individual Students
  • Phone call home.
  • Home visit.
  • Classroom observation.
  • Pre-correction conversation.
  • Preventative problem-solving plan.
  • Student and/or parent meeting with Support Team.
  • WOOP (student goal-setting)
  • Review cumulative folder.

What are the best math intervention programs? ›

Top 9 online math intervention programs
  1. XtraMath. This intervention program is a great resource for elementary-aged children. ...
  2. Mathlinks Essentials. ...
  3. AchieveMath Intervention Program. ...
  4. Freckle. ...
  5. Pirate Math Equation Quest. ...
  6. Imagine Math. ...
  7. DreamBox Learning. ...
  8. easyCBM.
Dec 3, 2021

What activities promote math learning? ›

In addition to games, Young says that doing puzzles and folding origami figures are great ways to promote the mathematical skills of spatial relationships and geometric reasoning. Puzzles also help children see the fun and beauty in math and to find satisfaction in solving a challenging problem.

What would you do to improve their performance in math? ›

How to improve math skills
  1. Wrap your head around the concepts. ...
  2. Try game-based learning. ...
  3. Bring math into daily life. ...
  4. Implement daily practice. ...
  5. Sketch word problems. ...
  6. Set realistic goals. ...
  7. Engage with a math tutor. ...
  8. Focus on one concept at a time.
Nov 1, 2021

What are the 3 components of a successful intervention? ›

What Are the Key Components of a Successful Intervention?
  • Include Trusted Loved Ones and Friends. For an intervention. ...
  • Go in With a Plan. ...
  • Focus on Solutions. ...
  • Lay Out Consequences. ...
  • Avoid Conflict. ...
  • Be Ready With Treatment Recommendations.
Aug 6, 2016

What are the most successful methods for intervention? ›

To help run a successful intervention:
  • Don't hold an intervention on the spur of the moment. ...
  • Plan the time of the intervention. ...
  • Do your homework. ...
  • Appoint a single person to act as a liaison. ...
  • Share information. ...
  • Stage a rehearsal intervention. ...
  • Anticipate your loved one's objections. ...
  • Avoid confrontation.

What are positive intervention strategies? ›

Positive behavior intervention strategies include designing routines, implementing silent signals, assigning tasks, and setting expectations. These strategies help encourage positive behaviors from individuals while simultaneously suppressing negative behaviors.

How do you write a math intervention plan? ›

Free Math Intervention Plan Template
  1. STEP 1: Determine What Is MOST Important. ...
  2. STEP 2: Put It On the Calendar. ...
  3. STEP 3: Give Your Students TIME. ...
  4. STEP 4: Build in MORE Time. ...
  5. STEP 5: Use This Guide.

What does a math intervention teacher do? ›

Provides high-quality instructional interventions in Mathematics that meet the needs of all students. The interventionist will work to ensure high levels of mathematical understanding and implementation with students. The teacher will work with both large and small groups who demonstrate instructional needs.

What is an example of positive intervention? ›

Positive psychology interventions focusing on compassion can be simple acts like buying someone a small token of love, volunteering for a noble cause, donating something, or helping a stranger in need. Kindness reinforces happiness and positivity. An example of a related PPI is 'prosocial spending'.

What are the three types of interventions? ›

Different Types of Interventions
  • Knowing the different types of interventions is important in treating substance use disorders and mental illness. ...
  • #1: Simple Intervention. ...
  • #2: Classic Intervention. ...
  • #3: Family System Intervention. ...
  • #4: Crisis Intervention.

What is math intervention class? ›

Math Intervention is a class or a period of time devoted to helping students who have been unsuccessful (typically on standardized tests) by providing additional time and resources. Oftentimes, a math intervention class is smaller in size or might include a co-teacher.

What are some Tier 2 interventions for math? ›

Tier 2 Intervention
  • Review the learning target and success criteria.
  • Set personal goals.
  • Gradually release the responsibility of the teacher.
  • Provide mathematical structure. Visual representations (C/R/A) Modeling problem-solving thinking. ...
  • Monitor progress frequently.
  • Provide immediate and descriptive feedback.

How can I help my IEP math students? ›

During Instruction
  1. One-on-one instruction.
  2. Provide small group review after lesson.
  3. Provide an audio version of the textbook.
  4. Use manipulatives.
  5. Visual aids – like personal anchor charts or step-by-step directions.
  6. Provide a copy of student notes.
  7. Split class into small groups.

How are you going to motivate learners to learn math? ›

One of the most effective methods for motivating students is asking them to justify certain mathematical curiosities. For example, when the sum of specific numbers is divisible by 8, the original number can also be divided by 8. Students must know such quirks before they present them with any challenges.

Which activity would be best for a student who is math smart? ›

If your child has a natural aptitude for logical mathematical intelligence, you can help them improve their skills by using memory or logic games, math puzzles, computer programs, hands-on projects, pattern recognition, data analysis, and other activities.

What is the most important skill in math? ›

Mental Arithmetic is undoubtedly the most important mathematical skill for everyday life as it is the process of doing calculations in your head, without any form of help from external tools such as paper and pencil, calculator, etc.

How do you encourage productive struggle in math? ›

Giving students time to struggle with tasks, and asking questions that scaffold students' thinking without stepping in to do the work for them. Helping students realize that confusion and errors are a natural part of learning, by facilitating discussions on mistakes, misconceptions, and struggles.

How do you engage students in a math lesson? ›

5 Tips to Help Get Students Engaged in High School Math
  1. Relate to the real world. Most students do not believe that they will use what they are learning in high school math ever again. ...
  2. Give students choices. ...
  3. Use props. ...
  4. Find problems with more than one answer. ...
  5. Make students feel safe.
May 20, 2020

What are the four major interventions? ›

As stated above, there are four main groups of OD interventions: human process interventions, techno-structural interventions, human resource management interventions, and strategic change interventions.

What are the four principles of effective intervention? ›

Participants gain an understanding of the importance and relevance of the Principles of Effective Intervention (PEI) – risk, need, responsivity, and fidelity – to their work in criminal and juvenile justice.

What are two characteristics of a good intervention? ›

Intervention Characteristics
  • Adaptability.
  • Complexity.
  • Cost.
  • Design Quality and Packaging.
  • Evidence Strength and Quality.
  • Intervention Source.
  • Relative Advantage.
  • Trialability.

How can you increase the success rate of an intervention? ›

That being said, here are 3 tips for a successful intervention.
  1. 1 – Carefully Pick Who is Involved. An intervention is not a courtroom drama, no one should be here to make sweeping accusations and control the narrative through force. ...
  2. 2 – Practice What You Want to Say. ...
  3. 3 – Keep a Contingency Plan.
Sep 3, 2020

What is an example of an intervention strategy? ›

Intervention strategies means various techniques utilized in teaching a child a particular skill such as physical or verbal prompts and cues, visual aids, modeling, imitation, repetition, task analysis, environmental or stimulus prompts and cues.

What are the intervention strategies? ›

What are intervention strategies? Intervention strategies are the strategies employed for a type of targeted teaching programme typically conducted in small groups or one-to-one settings. They are designed to address gaps in students' learning by focusing on specific areas of need.

What are the six steps for intervention? ›

All six steps are important:
  • Choose a problem behavior to change.
  • Measure the problem behavior by collecting data.
  • Determine the function (purpose) of the problem behavior.
  • Conduct a functional behavior assessment.
  • Create a behavior intervention plan.
  • Teach a new alternative behavior.

What are the interventions that can encourage positive behavior in students? ›

9 Examples of Positive Behavioral Interventions
  • Routines. Set clear routines for everything you would like students to do in your classroom, rather than assuming that students know your expectations. ...
  • Breaks. ...
  • Silent Signals. ...
  • Proximity. ...
  • Quiet Corrections. ...
  • Special Tasks. ...
  • Positive Phrasing. ...
  • Behavior Statements.
May 26, 2022

What are the interventions for struggling learners in math? ›

Free intervention strategies include: Peer tutoring—Involves a high-level student working with a lower-level student. Keyword mnemonics—Works by connecting new vocabulary with previous knowledge. Schema-based instruction—Helps students find patterns (schemas) and use those patterns to solve word problems.

What are 4 examples of intervention? ›

Examples include tutoring, facilitator-led classes or workshops, one-on-one coaching, case management, electronic or telephone communication with participants, and sustaining the capacity of the organization implementing it.

What are mathematics examples? ›

Balancing a checkbook, measuring out a recipe, and counting paper plates for a party are all examples of mathematics in daily life. Many professionals also use math daily at work such as engineers, businessmen, architects, contracts, and scientists.

What are the 4 major of mathematics? ›

The main branches of mathematics are algebra, number theory, geometry and arithmetic.

Why are math skills important in healthcare? ›

Mathematics ensures that measurements and calculations are accurate so that doctors provide patients with the best available care. Math for diagnosing medical conditions and diseases: Maths helps ensure that medical problems are correctly identified and diagnosed.

What are some Tier 3 interventions for math? ›

Tier 3 Intervention
  • Review the learning target and success criteria.
  • Set personal goals.
  • Gradually release the responsibility of the teacher.
  • Provide mathematical structure. Visual representations (C/R/A) Modeling problem-solving thinking. ...
  • Monitor progress frequently.
  • Provide immediate and descriptive feedback.

What are Tier 1 2 and 3 interventions in schools? ›

Tier 1 = Universal or core instruction. Tier 2 = Targeted or strategic instruction/intervention. Tier 3 = Intensive instruction/intervention.


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