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The fact that this guide is from 2009 makes it somewhat outdated, however, the information is still fairly sound and can be applied to most settings, especially as interventions for mathematics are notoriously difficult.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.



Best Practices in Math Intervention – Resources

One great resource I found when looking for Mathematics interventions was Hanover Research’s 2014 Best Practices in Math Intervention research summary. This summary can be found at:

“Hanover Research identified seven mathematics intervention programs with broad support from the research community. Credible authorities suggest the following programs are likely to significantly improve students’ mathematics abilities:

  • Fraction Face-Off!
  • Hot Math Tutoring
  • Number Worlds
  • I CAN Learn Pre-Algebra and Algebra
  • DreamBox Learning
  • enVisionMATH
  • Do The Math

Three crucial practices should be applied to all mathematics interventions: universal screening, explicit and systematic instructional methods, and data‐based decision making (p.3).”

Additionally, they suggested that fluency practice is crucial, role play and technology are typically helpful, and that early intervention is key, as we know.

Overall, this document is a helpful resource if looking for a scripted intervention program to implement in your school, as it reviews research and looks into a variety of interventions.

Great Number-Line Race! – Numeracy Game

More information about this intervention can be found at:

This intervention is essentially a simple number board game that helps students with early number sense, typically students in pre-school or similar age programs. Complete steps, as well as a game board, can be found at the aforementioned link at InterventionCentral. This game takes 12-15 minutes per individual player and is very simple to implement with the instructions at the above link. The below resource, with a link to access to actual research, goes into the development of the game and how it can be effective for low-SES preschool students, who may have had only limited exposure to mathematics or math intervention and have thus not developed an early number sense. For these students, even a simple intervention such as this can have large effects that will help reduce the risk of later difficulties in math.

Siegler, R. S. (2009). Improving the numerical understanding of children from low-income families. Child Development Perspectives, 3(2), 118-124. Retrieved from

Custom Math Self-Monitoring Checklists

More information about this intervention can be found at:

This intervention essentially involves a teacher creating a list of errors that a student commonly makes in their classroom and then creating a checklist for the student to eventually self-monitor for their own mistakes. This list can be developed based on a review of data or previous assessments with the student. For example, if a student commonly mistakes addition for subtraction on a mixed-problems worksheet, or mistakenly is off by one digit. This checklist is best if it is short, e.g. 4-5 items. This checklist is introduced and then eventually faded out once the student’s error rate decreases (e.g. 90% success rate). Reinforcement, praise, and encouragement is always helpful and can be built-in to this intervention.

Sample checklists can be found at the aforementioned link. This intervention is backed by self-monitoring research and has been specifically conducted for students with learning disabilities.

  • Dunlap, L. K., & Dunlap, G. (1989). A self-monitoring package for teaching subtraction with regrouping to students with learning disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 229, 309-314.
  • Uberti, H. Z., Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2004). Check it off: Individualizing a math algorithm for students with disabilities via self-monitoring checklists.Intervention in School and Clinic, 39(5), 269-275.

Folding-In – Math

More information about this intervention can be found at:

A previous post described the merits of using “Folding-In” as an intervention related to reading. This general concept of creating known and unknown flashcards and sorting them until mastery can also be applied to mathematics. Specifically, Self-Administered Folding-In is a common intervention script that can assist students in developing their fluency in basic math facts. For this intervention, flash cards are made with the math fact to be practiced on the front, and the answer on the back. Similar to in reading, these cards are sorted into “known” and “unknown” piles in accordance with a baseline procedure or with a prior assessment of knowledge. As in the reading version, the student creates a pile of 7 known and 3 unknown facts, and writes the answer on a dry erase board. If the answer is given within 3 seconds, it is considered known. Students repeat this process with all 10 cards until mastery. This is a brief summary of this intervention, but more detailed instructions are available at the link at the top of this page, including a checklist of the intervention’s steps for students, as well as a log of their mastered facts. This intervention is also a result of the Shapiro “Academic Skills Workbook” (cited below) and can be easily adapted to use with a tutor or instructor if the student is unable to self-manage their own work. Another example of an intervention script, for use with peers, can be found at:


Shapiro, E. S. (2004). Academic skills problems: Direct assessment and intervention (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.