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Strategy Systematic catch-up for 6-8 students

Summary

Middle school students should be building on their understanding and proficiency with arithmetic and problem solving on their way to algebra. To reach levels of mathematics that open the door to college, they must be prepared to succeed in advanced high school courses. But many students enter middle school too far behind to reach these levels unless something is done. Middle school is the best chance to recover for these students.

Students who are behind cannot catch up merely by accelerating up to the pace of their peers who are on target. They must learn even faster or learn less. To learn faster, they will have to spend more hours per week learning mathematics or learn more efficiently than their peers, or both. Moving faster won’t help unless the process of falling behind is stopped.

Because students will need different levels of intervention at different times, and because intervention can be expensive, especially if districts rely solely on the most intense types, a systematic layering of strategies is needed. The first layers serve the most students, least expensively. Each succeeding layer costs a little more per student and serves fewer students. The layers of intervention discussed are:
  • Enhancing regular classroom instruction – the base level
  • Classroom lesson planning for concentrated teaching of small groups
  • Math clinics
  • After school/community programs – homework and tutoring
  • Diagnostic teaching
  • Summer school “catch-up” programs
  • Tutoring
  • Double-period ramp-up courses
  • Intensive interventions in the style of reading

with links and/or references to some effective tools.

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