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Research Questions

  1. How often do teachers use intervention programs to help students who are performing below grade level?
  2. What factors shape teachers' use of intervention programs?

Many teachers across the country grapple with how to effectively educate students who are performing below grade level. One available option is academic intervention programs, which are programs intended to reteach and/or remediate specific skills or concepts for students. However, the prevalence of teachers' use of intervention programs and the factors that shape teachers' use remain unknown. The American Instructional Resources Survey (AIRS), which was fielded to the RAND Corporation's nationally representative American Teacher Panel in spring 2019, provides unique insight into U.S. teachers' use of academic intervention programs in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. In this Data Note, researchers explore the prevalence of teachers' use of intervention programs and how teachers' use of such programs may vary by school context, based on AIRS data.

Key Findings

Teachers were more likely to report using an intervention program in ELA than in mathematics

  • Teachers were significantly more likely to use intervention programs in ELA (62 percent) than in mathematics (52 percent).
  • Teachers also reported a wide variety of intervention programs used. In ELA, the most commonly used interventions included Accelerated Reader for elementary and middle school teachers and Read 180 for high school teachers. In mathematics, the most commonly used interventions among those listed in the survey included enVision MATH: Diagnosis and Intervention System for elementary teachers, Response to Intervention Everyday Intervention for middle school teachers, and MathXL for School for high school teachers.

High school teachers were least likely to report using an intervention program compared with teachers at other school levels

  • Although high school teachers were less likely to report using an intervention program than elementary or middle school teachers, 42 percent of high school teachers reported use of a reading or mathematics intervention (compared with majorities of elementary and middle school teachers).

Teachers in high-poverty schools were significantly more likely than those in lower-poverty schools to report using intervention programs in ELA

  • Using school free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) eligibility as a proxy for school poverty, the authors found that teachers' use of ELA intervention programs was higher in schools with 75 percent or more FRL eligibility. Use of mathematics intervention programs does not appear to be tied to school poverty levels.

Recommendation

  • The lower rates of intervention program use in mathematics and in high schools should be more closely examined to understand teachers' reasons for not using such programs. Research also could explore why such a large percentage of teachers are using intervention programs, the quality of the programs they are using, and how they are using interventions to support student learning.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and Labor and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Overdeck Family Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

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