Skip to main content

Intervention for Children with Comorbid Math and Reading Deficiency


The purpose is to inform practitioners how to structure preventive tutoring within an RTI system for children at risk for both reading disabilities (RD) and math disabilities (MD). In an experimental, longitudinal study, we answer 2 questions: (1) What is an effective, efficient form of preventive tutoring for students at risk for RD and MD? (2) How do select child characteristics associated with reading and math development moderate the efficacy of the tutoring protocols to predict end-of-intervention and long-term performance in reading and math?

The population is 1st graders representing the demographics of the school district (37% Caucasian, 42% African American, 18% Hispanic, 3% other). The sample comprises 135 1st-grade students at risk for RD+MD per yr in each of 4 yrs (total: 540) who are randomly assigned to 2 tutoring conditions and a control group to assess tutoring effects and to identify child characteristics that moderate the tutoring effects.

The 2 interventions (or preventive tutoring conditions) to be evaluated are (1) RD alone+MD alone, which addresses the reading deficits associated with RD and math deficits associated with MD separately (or additively), as is typical practice; and (2) RD+MD-tailored tutoring, which addresses reading and math deficits associated with RD and MD in an integrative manner. Although the tutoring conditions are different in content, both are conducted at 1st grade in groups of 3, 4 days per week, for 17 weeks, with 45 min per session. Components of these 2 manualized, tutoring protocols have been validated in large randomized control trials, and we have estimates of ESs between the 2 based on a pilot study.

The control condition receives typical 1st-grade reading and math instruction (no tutoring). We try to ensure the absence of tutoring by identifying schools targeting classroom instruction, not preventive tutoring, in their 5-year School Improvement Plans. We monitor control teachers weekly to look for and describe the nature of any tutoring that occurs.

The key outcomes are reading skill (word identification, fluency, comprehension) and math skill (number combinations, procedural calculations, and word problems)