Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Improving Reading and Mathematics Outcomes for Students with Learning Disabilities: Next Generation Intensive Interventions
Center: NCSER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Fuchs, Douglas Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Accelerating the Academic Achievement of Students with Learning Disabilities Research Initiative      [Program Details]
Award Period: 09/01/2013–08/31/2018 Award Amount: $10,000,000
Type: Multiple Goals Award Number: R324D130003

Co-Principal Investigators: Fuchs, Lynn; Preacher, Kristopher

IES Program Contact: Sarah Brasiel (

Long-Term Follow-Up Award: 2 Years (FY 2020–FY 2021), $748,548

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to develop and evaluate the efficacy of intensive interventions for students with and at high risk for reading and math disabilities. Over the last two decades, strides have been made in the development of reading and mathematics instruction to improve student achievement. Yet there is a wide and persistent achievement gap between students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities, and some students show limited or no progress despite receiving secondary, tertiary, or both levels of intervention. Thus, there is a need for development of innovative interventions for students with identified disabilities in reading or mathematics as well as those who are at high risk for being identified as such. This need is more urgent for students in the intermediate grades, when academic deficits and achievement gaps between students with disabilities and their peers are well established, and identification of students in need of more intensive interventions is more accurate. To address this need, this project aimed to develop and evaluate the efficacy of math and reading interventions for these learning disabilities in grades 3–5.

Projects: The Center's primary research included the development of math and reading interventions and the evaluation of the efficacy of the interventions and their components.

Focused Program of Research: The reading interventions focused on informational text. The math interventions focused on fraction magnitude, word problems, and calculations. In both academic domains, the interventions address College- and Career-Readiness Standards. At grade 3, the interventions comprised 41 lessons in reading and 36 lessons in math; at grades 4–5, they comprised 40 lessons in reading and 36 lessons in math. Lessons are intended to be administered three times per week for 35–40 minutes per session over 15 weeks in reading and in math.

Development Studies (Years 1–3)

The base reading and math programs, consisted of multiple evidence-based components, developed iteratively across Years 1–3. During this period, a series of developmental pilot studies were conducted. Each study assessed the relative promise of two active intervention conditions against each other and a business-as-usual condition. In reading, the major focal points of the developmental pilot studies included inferencing embedded working memory training, embedded language (morphology) instruction, and explicit transfer instruction. In math, the major focal points of the developmental pilot studies included decimals, explicit transfer instruction, embedded language instruction, embedded executive function training, and calculations. In both academic domains, the team also developed or adapted proximal and transfer measures and created fidelity and teacher training tools.

Efficacy Studies (Years 4–5)

In Years 4 and 5, the research team conducted randomized controlled trials to contrast the refined components against each other and against a business-as-usual condition. In reading, the efficacy studies isolated the effects of explicit transfer instruction, embedded working memory training, and a simplified set of components. In math, the efficacy studies isolated the effects of embedded executive functioning instruction, embedded language instruction, error analysis, and interleaved calculations practice. The reading and math interventions at grade 3 and at grades 4–5 in reading and math were finalized based on results from these studies.

To examine longer-term impacts of the grades 4–5 math intervention developed through this grant, the research team received $748,548 in additional funding to collect follow-up data on students in grade 5 (for those who received intervention in grade 4) and on students in grade 6 (for those who received intervention in grade 5). The follow-up study's purpose was to measure the longer-term impact of the intervention on fraction magnitude and fraction calculations, two of the three central focal points of the math intervention. Outcome data from the Fraction Battery 2018 Revised assessment (ordering, equivalencies, calculations) as well as the Number Line Estimation task, all of which were collected at posttest in the intervention year, were collected at follow up. Multilevel regression models were applied to the follow-up outcomes, contrasting intervention and control group students. The research team tested whether the effect of the intervention was moderated by one or more of the pretest measures collected in the fall of the intervention year, including students' whole-number skill, fraction performance, language comprehension, reasoning, processing speed, and working memory.

Key Outcomes: The main findings of this project, as reported by the principal investigator, are as follows:

  • At grades 4 and 5, the next-generation A3 intervention, called Reading PI,was found to improve performance on measures of informational text reading comprehension for students identified with or at risk for reading learning disabilities. The Reading PI program has also been shown to help students transfer their reading comprehension skills from texts used for instruction to unrelated non-fiction texts, with implications for measuring student RC outcomes across a range of near- and far-transfer measures.
  • At grade 3, Reading PI did not lead to significant improvement in informational text reading comprehension for students identified with or at risk for reading learning disabilities. This echoes the reading comprehension literature, which suggests that intervention targeting reading comprehension at third grade is particularly challenging and there is a need for additional research at third grade.
  • At grades 4 and 5, the next-generation A3 math intervention, called Super Solvers, was found to improve measures of fraction performance for students identified with or at risk for mathematics learning disabilities.
  • At grade 3, Super Solvers led to improved fraction performance for students identified with or at risk for mathematics learning disabilities.

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations:Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Publicly Available Data: For data-sharing agreement and procedures, contact or

WWC Review:

Project Website:

Select Publications:

Book chapter

Fuchs, D., Patton, S. III, Fuchs, L.S., Gilbert, J. K., Walsh, M., Lute, N., Haga, L., Peng, P., & Elleman, A. (2019). Combining reading comprehension instruction with cognitive training to provide intensive instruction to at-risk students (pp. 198–217). In P.C. Pullen & M.J. Kennedy (Eds.), Handbook of response to intervention and multi-tiered systems of support. New York: Routledge.

Journal articles

Clemens, N. H., & Fuchs, D. (2022). Commercially developed tests of reading comprehension: Gold standard or fool's gold? Reading Research Quarterly, 57, 385–397

Foreman-Murray, L., & Fuchs, L. S. (2019). Quality of explanation as an indicator of fraction magnitude understanding. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52, 181–191.

Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S. (2015). Rethinking service delivery for children with significant learning problems: Developing and implementing intensive instruction. Remedial and Special Education, 36, 105–111.

Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S. (2016). Responsiveness-to-intervention: A "systems" approach to adaptive instruction. Adaptive teaching: Theoretical implications for practice. Special issue of Theory into Practice, 55, 225–233.

Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S. (2019). On the importance of moderator analysis in intervention research: An introduction to the special issue. Exceptional Children, 85, 126–128.

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Vaughn, S. (2014). What is intensive intervention and why is it important? Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(4), 13–18.

Fuchs, D., Hendricks, E., Walsh, M. E., Fuchs, L. S., Gilbert, J. K., Tracy, W. Z., Patton, S., Davis, N., Kim, W., Elleman, A. M., & Peng, P. (2018). Evaluating a multidimensional reading comprehension program and reconsidering the lowly reputation of tests of near transfer. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 33, 11–23.

Fuchs, D., Kearns, D. M., Fuchs, L.S., Elleman, A.M., Gilbert, J. K., Patton, S., Peng, P., & Compton, D. L. (2019). Using moderator analysis to identify the first-grade children who benefit more and less from a reading comprehension program: A step towards aptitude-by-treatment interaction. Exceptional Children, 85, 229–247.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., & Gilbert, J.K. (2019). Does the severity of students' pre-intervention math deficits affect responsiveness to generally effective first-grade intervention? Exceptional Children, 85, 147–162.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., & Malone, A. (2017). The taxonomy of intervention intensity. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 50(1), 35–43.

Fuchs, L.S., & Malone, A.S. (2021). Can teaching fractions improve teachers' fraction understanding? Insights from a causal-comparative study. The Elementary School Journal, 121, 656–673.

Fuchs, L. S., Wang, A., Y., Preacher, K. J., Malone, A. S., Fuchs, D., & Pachmayr, R. (2021). Addressing challenging mathematics standards with at-risk learners: A randomized controlled trial on the effects of fractions intervention at third grade. Exceptional Children, 87, 163–182.

Hendricks, E. L., & Fuchs, D. (2020). Are individual differences in response to intervention influenced by the methods and measures used to define response? Implications for identifying children with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 53(6), 428–443.

Krowka, S. K., & Fuchs, L. S. (2017). Cognitive profiles associated with responsiveness to fraction intervention. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 32, 216–230.

Malone, A. S., & Fuchs, L. S. (2017). Error patterns in ordering fractions among at-risk fourth-grade students. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(3), 337–352.

Malone, A.S., Fuchs, L.S., Sterba, S. K., Fuchs, D., & Foreman-Murray, L. (2019). Does an integrated focus on fractions and decimals improve at-risk students' rational number magnitude performance? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 59, 101782.

Malone, A., Loehr, A., & Fuchs, L. S. (2017). The role of domain-general cognitive abilities and decimal labels in at-risk fourth-grade students' decimal magnitude understanding. Learning and Individual Differences, 58, 90–96.

Namkung, J., & Fuchs, L. S. (2019). Remediating difficulty with fractions for students with mathematics learning difficulties. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 24 (2), 36–48.

Namkung, J. M., Fuchs, L. S., & Koziol, N. (2018). Does initial learning about the meaning of fractions challenging for students with adequate whole-number skill? Learning and Individual Differences, 61, 151–157.

Patton, S.A., Fuchs, D., Hendricks, E.L., Pennell, A.J., Walsh, M.E., Fuchs, L.S., Tracy, W.Z., & Haga, L.Y. (2022). An experimental study to strengthen students' comprehension of informational texts: Is teaching for transfer important? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 37, 124–139.

Peng, P., & Fuchs, D. (2014). A meta-analysis of working memory deficits in children with learning difficulties: Is there a difference between verbal and numerical domains. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 49, 3–20.

Preacher, K., & Sterba, S. (2019). Aptitude treatment interactions in research on educational interventions. Exceptional Children, 85, 248–264.

Wang, A. Y., Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Gilbert, J. K., Krowka, S., & Abramson, R. (2019). Embedding self-regulation instruction within fractions intervention for third graders with mathematics difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52, 337–348.