Assisting Students Struggling with Math: RTI

Another great resource that I feel is worthy of saving is the What Works Clearinghouse’s “Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools,” available at

The fact that this guide is from 2009 makes it somewhat outdated, however, the information is still fairly sound and can be applied to most settings, especially as interventions for mathematics are notoriously difficult. If an RtI Framework is mostly nonexistent in my future setting, I think the best bet for moving forward is the explicit recommendations and checklists in this document. It goes step-by-step, recommendation-by-recommendation, explaining potential roadblocks (e.g. questions from teachers, misidentification, etc.) and how to move forward.

The recommendations are:

  1. Screen all students to identify those at risks, and then provide interventions. (Moderate)
  2. Materials should be mostly in-depth on whole numbers in K-5, and rational numbers in 4-8. (Low)
  3. Instruction should be explicit and systematic (e.g. problem solving models, guided practice, feedback, review) (Strong)
  4. Interventions should include instruction on solving word problems that is based on common underlying structures (Strong)
  5. Intervention materials include opportunities to work with visuals (Strong)
  6. Interventions should include fluency retrieval of basic math facts (Moderate)
  7. Progress monitoring is helpful (Low)
  8. Include motivational strategies (e.g. verbal praise, completion-contingent rewards) (Low)

These recommendations may seem like common sense, but it is moreso the plethora of evidence cited under each recommendation and the steps to overcoming roadblocks that is helpful with this resource. I believe this is a different type of valuable than the other review posted to this site, which examines specific interventions that schools may or may not have the resources to provide, or may not have the buy-in to support. These recommendations can be applied to any curriculum.


Gersten, R., Beckmann, S., Clarke, B., Foegen, A., Marsh, L., Star, J. R., & Witzel, B. (2009). Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools. NCEE 2009-4060. What Works Clearinghouse.



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