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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
Goal: Multiple Goals Award Number: R324D130003

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

Purpose: Over the last 10 to 15 years, 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, mathematics, or both 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 true need of more intensive interventions is more accurate. The purpose of this project is 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 includes 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 focus on informational text. The math interventions focus on fraction magnitude, word problems, and calculations. In both academic domains, the interventions address College- and Career-Ready Standards. At grade 3, the interventions comprise 41 lessons in reading and 36 lessons in math; at grades 4-5, they comprise 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 over 13 weeks in math.

Development Studies (Years 1–3)
The base reading and math programs, consisting of multiple evidence-based components, were developed iteratively across Years 1-3. During this period, a series of developmental pilot studies were conducted to assess 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 with 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 is 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 (Fraction Ordering and Calculations) as well as the Number Line Estimation task, all of which were collected at posttest in the intervention year, will be collected at follow up. In addition, to index general mathematics achievement, data from the Tennessee state assessment will be collected from records during the follow-up year. Multilevel regression models will be applied to the follow-up outcomes, contrasting intervention and control group students. The research team will also test whether the effect of the intervention is 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 Personnel: Vanderbilt University: Douglas Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, Don Compton, Mark Lipsey, Kris Preacher, Melanie Schuele

IES Program Contact:
Sarah Brasiel
Telephone: (202) 245-6734

Project website:

Related IES Projects: National Research and Development Center on Improving Mathematics Instruction for Students with Mathematics Difficulties (R324C100004)


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

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.

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.

Krowka, S.K., & Fuchs, L.S. (2017). Cognitive profiles associated with responsiveness to fraction intervention. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 32, 216–230. doi: 10.1111/ldrp.12146; ERIC: ED577241

Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., & Malone, A. (2017). The taxonomy of intervention intensity. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 50(1), 35-43. ED571640.
2018: Reformatted and reprinted in 50(4) (March/April, 2018) special issue of TEACHING Exceptional Children: Putting High-Leverage Practices into Practice.

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. Doi: 10.1177/0022219416629647; ERIC: ED562770

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. ERIC ED576202; doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2017.05.007; ERIC ED576202

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.

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.

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.

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. DOI: 10.1177/001440291880280; ERIC: EJ1202513

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, 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. DOI: 10.1177/001440291878262; ERIC ED591535

Preacher, K., & Sterba, S. (2019). Aptitude treatment interactions in research on educational interventions. Exceptional Children, 85, 248-264. DOI: 10.1177/0014402918802803

Foreman-Murray, L., & Fuchs, L.S. (2019). Quality of explanation as an indicator of fraction magnitude understanding. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52, 181-191. DOI: 10.1177/0022219418775120; ERIC ED581313

Malone, A.S., Fuchs, L.S., Sterba, S.K., Fuchs, D., & Foreman-Murray, L. (in press). Does an integrated focus on fractions and decimals improve at-risk students’ rational number magnitude performance? Contemporary Educational Psychology. ERIC ED595127

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 First Published May 29, 2019;; ERIC EJ1219484

Namkung, J., & Fuchs, L.S. (2019). Remediating difficulty with fractions for students with mathematics learning difficulties. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 19(2), 36-48.