2 Key Math Strategies for Students with Disabilities

While these focus are essential, mathematics is typically a forgotten part of special education. Mathematics is one of the most important predictors of student performance and adult successes.

Thus, mathematics direction for students with disabilities must include research-supported methods to take full advantage of student efficiency (understanding and procedural knowledge) and intervention need to be targeted at helping trainees recover any lapse in understanding.

By Bradley Witzel, Ph.D. and Barbara R. Blackburn, Ph.D

Numerous research-supported techniques have actually proven reliable for trainees with unique needs and mathematics problems. Among those are two we advise: the concrete-visual-abstract sequence of guideline (CVA) and schema-based problem-solving guideline (SBI).

Middle and late elementary level math efficiency in computation of whole and logical numbers is a predictor of algebra performance. Early numeracy is a predictor of not just late elementary math efficiency however checking out efficiency.

. Much effort is made in schools to help students with specials needs gain work abilities, improve behavior, and develop reading skills to ensure ongoing learning and social self-reliance.

Specifically, proficiency with Algebra 2 is a strong predictor of technical school conclusion, which grants licensure in such extremely needed areas as a/c repair, car mechanics, welding, etc.

CVA Is a Three Step Model

When enacting the issue fixing actions for SBI, utilizing a consistent attack technique helps guide trainees through the problem solving approach. One such attack method that matches SBI is DOPS.

Fixing word problems often requires trainees to decode intricate vocabulary, understand a paragraph of text, access background knowledge of genuine events, strategy numerous actions and precisely calculate issues. Despite its popularity, using “keyword” as the lone technique has actually revealed little to no effect on word problem performance.

While CVA appears relatively straight-forward, it needs precision of instruction and thoughtful planning. We recommend the following steps when providing and establishing CVA: To comprehend the significance of the link between the various phases of learning, using the very same construct as presented previously, the student resolves multi-digit subtraction, 83– 45, utilizing the integer guideline.

SBI targets math word problems.

CVA begins first by resolving a mathematics problem using concrete things followed by resolving similar problems using visuals and then abstract notation alone (Witzel & & Little, 2016). Because motions in between phases of discovering are fluid, it is helpful to reveal abstract notation while teaching utilizing concrete and visual representations. This explicit connection help in the shift from concrete to visual to abstract phases of finding out due to the fact that the abstract notation is present at each stage.

While CVA works for developing computational proficiency, schema-based guideline or SBI is effective for resolving word issues. With the increased use of word issues on mathematics standardized examinations, states, districts, and schools have actually increased their focus on efficiently teaching students how to fix them.

The trainee calculates the distinction in between the ones and 10s distinctions to equivalent 38. This procedure and the number of actions matches across phases to show a parallel approach.CVA is a powerful method to help students solve computational issues, and it is versatile to various types of issues

At the concrete phase, the student disintegrates the minuend and subtrahend. Next, the student calculates the 10s by comparing the minuend and subtrahend to reach +40. Then the student calculates a comparable comparison with the ones place to discover -2.

One of the most efficient word problem fixing techniques is schema-based direction (Witzel et al, 2021). SBI has a four-step technique: issue recognition, problem representation, and problem set-up, followed by check and solve.

The concrete-to-visual-to-abstract sequence of instruction (CVA) is a research-supported, three-step design that uses a series of discovering methods to assist students build abstract understanding of mathematics. CVA is likewise referred to as CRA (Concrete-Representational-Abstract) and CSA (Concrete-Semiconcrete-Abstract) and has been revealed effective for finding out such mathematics principles as number sense, entire and reasonable number calculation, simplifying algebra expressions, fixing algebra formulas, and solving geometric principles.

D = Determine the problem typeO = Organize the info utilizing the schematic diagramP = Plan to resolve the issue = Solve the problem arithmetically

Using cognitive techniques like DOPS assists with students who battle with executive functioning and preparing by building in self-regulation (Witzel, 2020).

How to carry out the SBI method

Contrast issues will likewise provide approximately two parts in word issues– 2 items that are being compared and the number of times one is higher or less than the other. Contrast representations look like this: Example: Kelly checked out 9 books over summer break. Todd checked out 3 books. How numerous times more books did Kelly check out than Todd?

Witzel, B. S., & & Little, M. E. (2016 ). Teaching elementary mathematics to struggling learners. New York City: Guilford Press.

Solve and check = 96 books makes good sense considering the variety of boxes.

Mathematics can be a tough topic to find out and to teach. Executing direction that is grounded in empirical research is extremely important to maximizing success for all learners, especially those with special requirements.

Bradley Witzel is the Adelaide Worth Daniels Distinguished Professor of Education at Western Carolina University and has worked as a classroom teacher and prior to that as a paraeducator with high-achieving trainees with impairments. He has actually written nine books and over 50 other expert publications, established over 20 multimedia resources, and provided over 500 presentations and workshops.

Arrange a representation, such as the one below (T= Todd). Plan to solve– Since this is not a simple calculation, the trainee would need to evaluate the problem to figure out to divide 9 by 3.

Executing SBI is not always easy because textbooks are hardly ever designed to methodically teach word-problem solving. For that reason, it is very important to first present problems that fit with the SBI more quickly prior to scaffolding to more intricate problems.


Witzel, B. S., Riccomini, P. J., & & Schneider, E. (2008 ). Executing CRA with secondary students with learning impairments in mathematics. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43( 5 ), 270-276.

Barbara and Brad are the authors of Rigor for Students with Special Needs, 2nd edition from Routledge/Eye On Education.

The student calculates a comparable comparison with the ones position to discover -2.

To show how to carry out SBI utilizing a cognitive technique like DOPS, we highlight reproduction and department issue solving. The two most basic kinds of multiplication and department issues are equivalent groups and contrast.

Due to the fact that there are similarly sized boxes of books, determine problem type– This is an equivalent groups issue.

Equal groups issues will present up to two elements in word issues– number of groups and number of items per group– leading to an overall number or quantity. Equal groups representations look like this: Example: Emily dumps 8 boxes of books at school.

Rigor for trainees with unique requirements. Routledge.

Witzel, B. S. (2020 ). Attention, 27( 5 ).

Organize a representation, such as the one below.Plan to fix, 8 × 12.


Because we are talking about how lots of books Kelly read compared to Todd, determine problem type– This is a contrast issue.

Its equally necessary that we formatively examine every math student through the year to learn where they are being successful in their method and where they are not. Using the information we collect, we can target direction utilizing efficient educational techniques, such as CVA and SBI, and not only assist them prosper in our mathematics classes however help them grow academically for several years to come.

Barbara R. Blackburn, a “Top 30 Global Guru in Education,” is a successful author of over 25 books and a desired expert. She was an award-winning professor at Winthrop University and has taught trainees of all ages.

Solve and examine = 3 times as lots of books makes sense thinking about Kelly checked out 9 and Todd read 3.

Intensifying word problem solving for trainees with mathematics troubles. Intervention in School and Clinic.

If students are taught SBI early, they are most likely to have success with word problems early and shift that success to later on mathematics (Jitendra et al., 2013).

Equal groups problems will present up to two elements in word problems– number of groups and number of items per group– leading to an overall number or amount. Contrast problems will also present up to 2 elements in word problems– 2 products that are being compared and how numerous times one is higher or less than the other. Heightening word issue resolving for trainees with mathematics difficulties. Carrying out CRA with secondary students with finding out specials needs in mathematics.

Jitendra, A. K., Dupuis, D. N., Rodriguez, M. C., Zaslofsky, A. F., Slater, S., Cozine Corroy, K., & & Church, C. (2013 ). A randomized controlled trial of the impact of schema-based guideline on mathematical results for third-grade students with mathematics problems. The Elementary School Journal, 114( 2 ), 252– 276.

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