The study comprises Grade 2 students at risk for mathematical difficulties (MD) from 10 schools in two school districts of the US mid-Atlantic region. Of the 56 students identified as MD in the participating schools, 54 were randomly assigned to one of three groups: nonstandard and standard equation tutoring (“combined” tutoring), standard equation tutoring, or no-tutoring comparison. Tutoring for the combined and standard tutoring conditions was administered by one of six tutors. Tutoring group sizes are presumed to have been small given that the overall sample size is small and randomization was blocked by classroom (the number of tutoring groups and the number per group are not provided). The tutoring session began during the second week of April and lasted four weeks.
Within the analytic sample of this contrast, 39 percent were male, 61 percent were female, 45 percent were African American, 43 percent were White, 12 percent were another race, 4 percent were Hispanic, 6 percent were English-language learners, and 18 percent had a school-identified disability.
For the contrast covered in this SRG (combined + standard equation tutoring vs. no-tutoring comparison), the two tutoring conditions are collectively considered to be the intervention condition and no tutoring to be the comparison condition. Participating MD students in both tutoring conditions (combined and standard) began tutoring the second week of April. Tutoring, for both groups, lasted for four weeks with sessions conducted three times per week (12 sessions total) by one of six tutors. Sessions lasted 10 to 15 minutes each. Three activities occurred during each combined tutoring session: flash cards, tutor-led lesson, and paper-pencil review. In total, 12 lessons were provided by the tutor across the 12 sessions. Across the 12 lessons, MD students in the combined equation tutoring group worked on nonstandard and standard equations. MD students in the standard equation tutoring group only worked on standard equations. In a standard equation, the equal sign is in the standard position: number, operator symbol, number, equal sign, and number (e.g., 2 + 9 = 11; 3 + __ = 7). In a nonstandard equation, the equal sign is in a nonstandard position.
The MD students randomly assigned to the no-tutoring group, the comparison condition for the contrast covered in this SRG, received no tutoring (i.e. “business as usual”).
Support for implementation
Six tutors participated in the study: five graduate students in education-related fields and one project coordinator with a graduate degree in education. Tutors participated in a two-hour training to become familiar with and practice the tutoring programs of both tutoring conditions. Tutors also met with the project coordinator at the end of the first and third weeks of tutoring for discussion and the resolution of any issues related to student behavior.