Early studies are showing significant learning loss in math due to the pandemic. Because of this, teachers need to be prepared to identify and fix any gaps when all students return to in-person learning.
Over a decade ago, Vail School District overhauled our math curriculum and intervention plan and have continued to make updates as our students’ needs have evolved. In this article, I’ll share my top five “must haves” for any math intervention initiative.
Tip #1: Monitor progress throughout the year
It’s important that we receive an in-depth understanding of students’ progress throughout the school year – not just once or twice. I recommend providing three universal math screenings – in fall, winter, and spring – and also have teachers monitor progress on a weekly basis.
Our district started doing this through curriculum-based measurement (CBM) roughly 17 years ago. CBM has been linked to improved student academic outcomes, more effective instruction, and higher student achievement.
Building upon the benefits of CBM, we started using Spring Math, a math intervention solution that combines tools for assessment, intervention and progress monitoring. This has simplified the assessment and grading process for teachers and provides a more in-depth way to support students’ needs.
This increased level of awareness helps teachers provide timely support to students, and also helps prevent any surprises down the road.
Tip #2: Implement classwide interventions
A Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a data-driven, problem-solving framework that’s used to improve outcomes for all students. This framework helps educators identify when and how to provide academic, social and emotional support to students.
Interventions are different methods of support given to students. Oftentimes, educators are focused on providing individual interventions – but I’m an advocate for using classwide interventions first, and then using individual interventions second for students who still need some extra practice.
Based on the results of a universal screening, Spring Math automatically identifies if an entire class needs extra support, and if so, provides a selection of classwide intervention options.
Typically, a classwide intervention will take the form of a practice assignment that reinforces a particular skill that students still need to master. The teacher will pair students up and have them work together to complete and grade one another’s work. This peer-to-peer tutoring model has been proven to increase math confidence and skill, which makes it an excellent foundation for any intervention initiative.
Tip #3: Encourage collaboration among staff and students
If you’re dedicated to sparking change across an entire school or district, collaboration is necessary. To create sustainable change, every teacher, principal, and student must be involved in the process.
Before implementing any new resources, tools, or curriculum, it’s important that your goals are clear. Help stakeholders understand why you’re implementing these changes and demonstrate how they will better serve students in the long run.
When our district invested in an intervention solution, we worked with a handful of principals who agreed to participate in a pilot. We started by explaining what the solution is, why we were using it and how we planned on using it. Once these school leaders felt comfortable with the plan, they turned into advocates. Without our prompting them to do so, they spread positive word of our refreshed math intervention plan, which made implementation much easier across the district.
Tip #4: Adjust your strategy as needed
The needs of your district community shift and evolve over time, so it’s important that you adjust your strategy accordingly. Like I mentioned earlier, our district’s revamped math intervention plan started with the shift to CBM and has evolved to meet the needs of our community over time.
The evolution of technology and instructional strategies led to our adoption of math assessment and intervention solution, and it’s made our math curriculum and intervention plan that much stronger – as shown in the chart below.
Tip #5: Be comfortable with change
Being comfortable with change is an important part of the process! Consider everything that’s changed (and changing) due to the pandemic. Teachers are finding creative ways to engage with students, and district leaders are working hard to keep schools safe and functional – if we can do this, we can do anything.
Working together to improve
As educators, our passion for helping students is what fuels us. Regardless of your specific role, your work impacts our learners– that’s important! If we collaborate with one another and remain open to change, we can find new ways to serve the needs of all learners.
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