Panel: Individualized Math Instruction for Struggling Students

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Comiskey (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Beth E. Schueler, Harvard University
Panel Chairs:  Christina LiCalsi, American Institutes for Research
Discussants:  Matthew Kraft, Brown University and Christina LiCalsi, American Institutes for Research

Not Too Late: The Role of Individualized Tutoring in Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth
Monica Bhatt1, Jonathan Guryan2, Kelly Hallberg1 and Jens Ludwig1, (1)University of Chicago, (2)Northwestern University

The Effects of the Elevate Math Summer Program on Math Achievement and Algebra Readiness
Jason Snipes, Chun-Wei Huang, Karina Jaquet and Neal Finkelstein, WestEd

How should schools and districts respond in order to best support struggling middle and high school students when they fall behind in mathematics? Educators and policymakers have proposed and implemented a range of approaches including individualized instruction through tutoring or small group work, providing targeted additional learning time outside of the traditional school day during vacation breaks and summer vacations, and utilizing technology for tailored support. However, few of these approaches have been subject to rigorous evaluation. The papers in this panel begin to address that limitation by reporting on four field experiments from three states: Illinois, Massachusetts, and California.


The first paper investigates the impact of a high-dosage tutoring intervention with high school students in Chicago, reporting on both an initial study and replication. The second paper examines the effects of small group math instruction provided over weeklong vacation breaks in a set of low-performing Massachusetts-based middle schools. The third study returns to the Chicago context to evaluate the relative merits of online versus face-to-face instruction in a ninth grade Algebra credit recovery program. Finally, the fourth paper examines a math summer program for rising eighth grade students in a range of districts across California’s Silicon Valley.


All of four of the papers provide encouraging findings, suggesting that it is indeed possible to help struggling middle and high school students make substantial progress in math. By examining four different, but related, efforts across a range of contexts, this panel will seek to: a) draw lessons regarding promising approaches to supporting struggling students in math, b) consider the relative cost effectiveness and scalability of various models, and c) outline important unanswered questions for future research.

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