The purpose of this efficacy study is to assess whether equation-solving instruction, conducted within the context of word-problem tutoring, leads to improved word-problem solving outcomes. Word-problem proficiency is necessary to demonstrate successful mathematics performance. Many students, however, are inadequately prepared to solve word problems, and this is especially true for students with or at risk for mathematics difficulty (MD). Students with or at risk for MD demonstrate significantly lower word-problem performance and make significantly more errors when solving word problems than peers without MD. Given the importance of word-problem competency and the need to enhance this skill in students with MD, there is a critical need to determine the efficacy of word-problem interventions for students with MD.

This study is a randomized controlled efficacy trial in which students with MD are assigned to two competing word-problem tutoring programs or a business-as-usual condition. The two treatment conditions include word-problem tutoring without equation-solving instruction and word-problem tutoring with equation-solving instruction. By comparing these conditions, the project aims to determine whether improvements in equation solving can promote superior word-problem performance. The study will assess the role of equation solving as a mediator of word-problem performance. In addition, the research team will investigate the role of moderators, including reading skill, listening ability, verbal comprehension, and cognition. Fidelity of implementation will be assessed using an observational checklist in the two active tutoring conditions and in the control condition.