Skip Navigation

What Works Clearinghouse

Elementary School Math

Math—Curriculum-Based Interventions for Increasing Elementary School Math Achievement

Topic Area Focus

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review on elementary school math interventions focuses on curriculum-based math interventions that specify clear learning goals for students and assess student outcomes related to mathematics achievement.

A systematic review of evidence in this topic area addresses the following questions:

  • Which curriculum-based math interventions are effective for improving mathematics achievement outcomes for elementary school students?
  • Are some math interventions more effective for improving mathematics achievement for some subgroups of students, particularly students who are at risk for failure in mathematics?

Key Definitions

Curriculum-based interventions. A curriculum-based math intervention is defined in this review as a replicable, materials-based instructional program which

  • covers one or more of the following content areas: number, arithmetic, geometry, pre-algebra, measurement, graphing, and logical reasoning;
  • specifies the population of learners as elementary school students;
  • delineates the learning goals for students; and
  • directly assesses student outcomes related to mathematics achievement.

Two types of curriculum-based math interventions are considered in this review: (1) core, comprehensive math curricula, and (2) supplemental math programs.

  1. Core math curricula are defined as instructional programs that
    • extend over the course of one semester or more;
    • are central to students' regular school instruction; and
    • are based on text materials, manipulatives, computer software, videotapes, other materials, or any combination thereof.
  2. Supplemental math programs are defined as curriculum-based interventions that
    • are provided to students in addition to their core math curriculum;
    • are provided to students outside of their regular school instruction, either before or after school, as a pull-out program during the school day, or in the classroom in addition to the core curriculum; and
    • may target students from low-income families who are in Title I schools, according to the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.