WWC review of this study

Effects of a Multitier Support System on Calculation, Word Problem, and Prealgebraic Performance among At-Risk Learners [Word problem instruction vs. control]

Powell, Sarah R.; Fuchs, Lynn S.; Cirino, Paul T.; Fuchs, Douglas; Compton, Donald L.; Changas, Paul C. (2015). Exceptional Children, v81 n4 p443-470 . Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1065063

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    169
     Students
    , grade
    2

Reviewed: February 2023

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Algebra and Algebraic Reasoning outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Dynamic Assessment of Algebraic Knowledge (Fuchs et al., 2008)

Word problem instruction—Powell et al. (2015) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Word Problem Response to Intervention vs. Business as usual comparison;
169 students

5.80

4.44

No

--
Whole Numbers Computation outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Second-Grade Calculations Battery (SGCB; Fuchs, Hamlett, & Powell, 2003): Single-digit

Word problem instruction—Powell et al. (2015) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Word Problem Response to Intervention vs. Business as usual comparison;
169 students

6.69

4.83

Yes

 
 
19
 

Second-Grade Calculations Battery (SGCB; Fuchs, Hamlett, & Powell, 2003): Double-digit

Word problem instruction—Powell et al. (2015) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Word Problem Response to Intervention vs. Business as usual comparison;
169 students

6.55

5.31

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Calculations - Distal Outcome (composite) [Powell et al. 2015]

Word problem instruction—Powell et al. (2015) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Word Problem Response to Intervention vs. Business as usual comparison;
169 students

-0.19

-0.45

Yes

 
 
14


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 17% English language learners

  • Female: 50%
    Male: 50%

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    South
  • Race
    Black
    54%
    Other or unknown
    8%
    White
    18%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    20%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    80%

Setting

The study took place in 25 schools in a metropolitan school district across four cohorts (one per year for 4 years). Whole-class instruction was delivered November to March and tutoring was delivered December to March during the school year.

Study sample

Demographic characteristics of the students in the Word Problem RtI condition are as follows: 54% male; 56% African American, 15.4% White, 6.6% other, and 22% Hispanic; 86.6% qualified for free or reduced priced lunch; 8.8% were identified as having a disability; 16.5% were English Language Learners; and 4.4% had been retained. Demographic characteristics of the students in the business-as-usual comparison condition are as follows: 39.7% male; 52.6% African American, 20.5% White, 9% other, and 17.9% Hispanic; 88.5% qualified for free or reduced priced lunch; 14.1% were identified as having a disability; 17.9% were English Language Learners; and 11.5% had been retained.

Intervention Group

The two-tiered Word Problem intervention is a combination of Tier 1 whole-class lessons and Tier 2 small-group tutoring lessons. Tier 1 consisted of 34 whole-class lessons with two lessons per week over a 17-week period. Each lesson lasted approximately 40 to 45 minutes and was delivered by research assistants in the students’ classrooms. Tier 2 consisted of 39 small-group tutoring lessons delivered by research assistants to groups of 2 to 3 students. Tutoring started at the beginning of weeks 4 or 5 of the Tier 1 intervention and lasted for 13 weeks with 3 lessons a week. Each lesson lasted 25 to 30 minutes and took place outside of the student’s classroom (i.e., library, conference room, hallway). The Word Problem whole-class intervention and small-group tutoring used Kintsch and colleagues’ framework in which word problemsolving is thought to be an interaction between problem solving and language comprehension. Students learned to apply a problem-type schema (in second grade the three additive schemas were combine, compare, and change) to help with solving word problems.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison classrooms received their math instruction from the district curriculum, Houghton Mifflin Math.

Support for implementation

Research assistants participated in two 6-hour training sessions where they learned to implement the Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions. Before entering schools, research assistants had to demonstrate proficiency on a practice lesson (95% fidelity against the lesson’s fidelity checklist). Weekly meetings were held with the first author, project coordinators, and research assistants to discuss upcoming lessons and problems encountered.

 

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