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The Importance of Implementing an Elementary Math Intervention Program for Struggling Students

By Jim Wheelin Subscribe to RSS | December 6th 2011 | Views:

Math is a challenging subject, but one that is necessary for everyday applications. Whether it’s counting out money, using basic arithmetic or recognizing sequences, math concepts are constantly being used. When math is introduced in the elementary curriculum, some students become overwhelmed with basic addition and subtraction. If these basic building blocks are not fully understood, students will continue to have difficulties in math. Fortunately, there’s no need to let this happen to your students. With an elementary math intervention program, educators and parents can step in and offer the necessary support to get kids back on track.

Understanding Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach to intervention. It is based on three different tiers with increasing levels of difficulty. The services provided within RTI are tailored toward the needs of each individual student instead of focusing on a large-scale approach. 

Tier 1 is the base level, which the majority of students receive. It also makes up the largest level and one that will be overcome easily by students with minor struggles. Since there is so much differentiation between students, it’s important to offer much flexibility in this tier.

Tier 2 is for a smaller group of students that require additional interventions. The interventions in this tier are expanded lessons from the first tier and commonly referred to as strategic or supplemental. 

Tier 3 is the smallest group and represents those students who need more intensive interventions. These students are those that are at risk for failing and have demonstrated low performance on testing and instructional proficiency.

Actions, Not Classifications

When students start to fall behind, they often become embarrassed and frustrated. The three tiers within RTI are not meant to classify students but serve as actions. For example, a student in Tier 2 is not recognized as a “Tier 2 student” but instead is receiving intervention at the Tier 2 level. The tiers leave room for differentiated lessons and track the progress of each child so that educators can watch for the students that progress quickly with little intervention, while focusing on the students that require more demanding interventions. 

Learning Aids Used in RTI

When students require intervention, there are numerous learning aids that have proven to be beneficial. Virtual manipulatives have received the most attention, as these learning tools can be implemented into any classroom or home study lesson and allow students to develop deeper understandings of math concepts. The manipulatives come in the form of online games and puzzles that are fun and engaging for young children. They encourage kids to use various math concepts to master the games, and these concepts are used across applications so that kids are comfortable applying them.

Since no two students learn the same, an elementary math intervention program is tailored toward the learning style of each student. The lesson is the right level of difficulty for each student and won’t continue to the next lesson until the student has a firm grasp on the lesson at hand. More importantly, students don’t just click on an answer or memorize techniques. The virtual manipulatives encourage students to learn the strategies to the math concepts.

Tracking Progress

Virtual manipulatives are more than just online games and puzzles; they track the progress of each student so that educators can evaluate where each child falls on the learning spectrum. Teachers receive real-time assessments that show each student’s progress and comprehension level. The results are measured using the Common Core Standards and National Council of Teachers Mathematics Focal Points, keeping all detailed reports consistent. By implementing an elementary math intervention program, students will be able to achieve mathematical proficiency.

Jim Wheelin - About Author:
Jim Wheelin writes about many different educational topics for parents and kids. Jim is always keeping an eye out for the latest teaching techniques and tools, including tips for those looking for an elementary math intervention program. He also likes to test out-of-the-box educational resources including

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