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What Works Clearinghouse


Middle School Math

Curriculum-Based Interventions for Increasing Middle School Math Achievement


Topic Area Focus

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review focuses on curriculum-based interventions, which contain learning goals that spell out the mathematics that students should know and be able to do, instructional programs and materials that organize the mathematical content, and assessments. The WWC has broken the broad topic of math curricula into two reviews: middle school math and elementary school math.

The report uses systematic reviews of evidence to address the following questions:

  • Which curriculum-based interventions are effective in increasing the learning of mathematics content and skills (that is, what students should know and be able to do) among middle school students?
  • Are some interventions more effective for certain types of students, particularly students who lag behind in mathematics achievement?

Key Definitions

Curriculum-based interventions. A curriculum-based math intervention will be defined in this review as a replicable, materials-based instructional program central to students' regular learning activities for which

  • the population of learners is specified as middle school students;
  • the learning goals for students are well delineated;
  • student outcomes related to mathematics achievement are directly assessed;
  • one or more of the following content areas are covered: number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability; and
  • instruction extends over the course of one semester or more.

Curricula may be based on text materials, computer software, videotapes, or any other materials base, or combination thereof. Interventions of short duration (e.g., less than one semester) or that merely supplement an existing curriculum (e.g., tutorial program) are excluded.

We will consider only core curriculum for continuous review. Core math curricula are defined as instructional programs that

  • are comprehensive;
  • 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.