1. Vicki Oleson
  2. Director
  4. University of Northern Iowa
  1. Connie Terry
  2. Math Consultant
  4. Green Hills Area Education Agency

Special Education Math Professional Development

6071 M2017-03

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

The mathematics achievement gap for struggling students is well-documented. Teachers often ask, “What do I do when universal or core instruction is not enough?”

The Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa combined forces with experts in the fields of mathematics and special education to answer this question. This team addressed the need for professional development that supports teachers in closing the achievement gap for struggling students. The resulting professional development, Teaching Mathematics to Struggling Learners (TMSL), builds mathematics content knowledge and increases understanding and implementation of research-supported instructional and assessment strategies, specific to mathematics-intensive intervention.

The Common Core Content Standards and the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice provide a firm foundation for universal or core instruction. The TMSL program focuses on intensive instruction when universal or core instruction is not enough.

The TMSL program implements the following Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recommendations:

  • Interventions should include instruction on solving word problems that are based on common underlying structures
  • All students should be screened to identify those at risk for potential mathematics difficulties, and interventions should be provided to students identified as at risk
  • Intervention materials should include opportunities for students to work with visual representations of mathematical ideas, and interventionists should be proficient in the use of visual representations of mathematical ideas
  • Instruction provided during interventions should be explicit and systematic
  • Interventions at all grade levels should devote about 10 minutes in each session to building fluent retrieval of basic arithmetic facts
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